Financing Economic Recovery

Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana is the United
Nations Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of the UN
Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific

By Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana
BANGKOK, Thailand, Sep 8 2020 (IPS)

As the socio-economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic spread
across the length and breadth of Asia and the Pacific, finance
ministries are continuing their relentless efforts to inject
trillions of dollars for emergency health responses and fiscal
packages. With continued lockdown measures and restricted borders,
economic rebound seems uncertain.

Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana

Compared to 2019’s economic situation, over the past six months,
countries in Asia and the Pacific have been experiencing sharp
drops in foreign exchange inflows due to declines in export
earnings, remittances, tourism and FDI. This is worrying as
policymakers are tackling difficult choices over how to prioritize
development spending, while continuing to expand their squeezed
fiscal space.

The United Nations is contributing through a global initiative
on Financing for Development in the Era of COVID-19 and Beyond,
co-convened by Canada and Jamaica, to articulate a comprehensive
financing strategy to safeguard the Sustainable Development Goals
(SDGs).

Governments are united together to ensure that adequate
financial resources are available to steer an inclusive,
sustainable and resilient post-COVID recovery. In the Asia-Pacific
region, several countries have already adopted financing plans in
three key areas. They aim to address the challenge of diminished
fiscal space and debt vulnerability; to ensure sustainable
recovery, consistent with the ambitions of the Paris Agreement and
the 2030 Agenda; and to harness the potential of regional
cooperation in support of financing for development.

The development arm of the United Nations in our region, the
United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the
Pacific (ESCAP) has recently launched its first-ever Regional
Conversation Series on Building Back Better. We are joining forces
with ministers, decision makers, private sectors and heads of
international agencies to share collective insights in sharing
pathways to resilient recovery from ongoing health pandemic and
economic collapse.

To improve the fiscal space and manage high levels of debt
distress, a growing call for extending the debt moratorium under
global initiatives like the Debt Service Suspension initiative
(DSSI) is timely. Central Banks can continue to keep the balance
right of supporting the economy and maintaining financial
stability. This further involves enhancing tax reforms and
improving debt management capacities, while using limited fiscal
space to invest in priority sectors. Exploring
sustainability-oriented bonds and innovative financing instruments
options such as debt swaps for SDG investment should be explored
further.

In addition to economic considerations, the policy paradigm and
financing architecture for recovery plans must mainstream
affordable, accessible and green infrastructure standards, while
promoting social equality and environmental sustainability
principles as enshrined in the Paris Agreement. As we scale up the
use of digital technology and innovative applications, the
financing support of micro, small and medium-sized enterprises
(MSMEs) must go hand in hand with these national job-rich recovery
strategies.

The Regional Conversation on Financing for Development
highlighted that no country could take this agenda forward alone.
Regionally coordinated financing policies can restart trade,
reorganize supply chains and revitalize sustainable tourism in a
safe manner. Thankfully, several countries in the region have
valuable experiences to share.

Across Asia and the Pacific, governments must pool financial
resources to create regional investment funds in areas such
liquidity funds for sustainability, funds for resilience and travel
funds to relaunch our economies. Strengthening regional cooperation
platforms to ensure that all countries receive an equitable number
of doses of the vaccine on short notice to everyone everywhere is
particularly essential. Without an end to the pandemic, the
economic and social costs can’t be contained.

Through ESCAP, we can scale these efforts across the region,
working closely with our member States, the private sector and
innovators to build a collective financing response to mobilize the
necessary additional resources. Together, we can chart financing
strategies of Asia and the Pacific which can enhance societal
well-being and economic resilience to future pandemics and
crises.

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The post Financing
Economic Recovery
appeared first on Inter Press Service.

Excerpt:

Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana is the United
Nations Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of the UN
Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific

The post Financing
Economic Recovery
appeared first on Inter Press Service.

Source: FS – All – Ecology – News
Financing Economic Recovery