Coronavirus pandemic could push half a billion more people into poverty —Oxfam warns

OXFAM, aid charity focused on alleviation of global poverty, has called on world leaders to contain the economic fallout caused by coronavirus pandemic, warning that the grave effect could push half a billion people into poverty.

The charity organisation in a statement called on world leaders to agree on an ‘Economic Rescue Package for All’ which is targeted at helping poor countries and poor communities afloat.

Oxfam’s raised its concerns ahead of key meetings of the World Bank, International Monetary Fund (IMF) and G20 Finance Ministers’ next week.

According to a new report, Dignity Not Destitution released by Oxfam; six and eight per cent of the global population could be forced into poverty as governments shut down entire economies to manage the spread of the virus.

In addition, findings made by researchers at King’s College London and the Australian National University and published by the United Nations University World Institute for Development Economics  highlighted that the coronavirus pandemic could leave half of the global population in poverty.

It could also set back the fight against poverty by three decades in some regions such as sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East and North Africa, the analysis showed.

In proffering a solution, Oxfam submitted that an ‘Emergency Rescue Package for All’ would enable poor countries to provide cash grants to those who have lost their income and to bail out vulnerable small businesses.

The rescue package, it noted, could be augmented by the immediate cancellation of US$1 trillion worth of developing country debt payments in 2020.

It called on world leaders to provide US$1 trillion in new international reserves, known as Special Drawing Rights, submitting that it would increase the funds available to countries.

“The devastating economic fallout of the pandemic is being felt across the globe. But for poor people in poor countries who are already struggling to survive there are almost no safety nets to stop them falling into poverty.

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“G20 Finance Ministers, the IMF and World Bank must give developing countries an immediate cash injection to help them bail out poor and vulnerable communities. They must cancel all developing country debt payments for 2020 and encourage other creditors to do the same, and issue at least US$1 trillion of Special Drawing Rights,” Jose Maria Vera, Oxfam International Interim Executive Director said.

“Governments must learn the lessons of the 2008 financial crisis where bailouts for banks and corporations were paid for by ordinary people as jobs were lost, wages flatlined and essential services such as healthcare cut to the bone. Economic stimulus packages must support ordinary workers and small businesses, and bail outs for big corporations must be conditional on action to build fairer, more sustainable economies,” added Vera.

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