Speech by the Prime Minister

The Most Hon. Andrew Holness, Prime Minister of Jamaica Opening Remarks on Financing for Development in the Era of COVID-19 & Beyond on 29 September 20

I am pleased to again join my co-convenors, Prime Minister Trudeau and Secretary-General Guterres, in welcoming Heads of State and Government and all participants, to this high-level discussion.

COVID-19 has had grave impact, having taken over a million lives and the livelihoods of hundreds of millions.

When we met on the 28th of May, the huge dimensions and devastating consequences of the COVID-19 crisis were already evident. It had become clear that this crisis was multi-dimensional; it was not only a health crisis but also an economic crisis.

The reality for developing countries is one of overburdened health systems, weak infrastructure and inadequate fiscal resources to respond effectively to the social and economic consequences of the pandemic. Caribbean islands, with heavy dependence on service industries, particularly tourism have been among the most severely impacted. The poor, the vulnerable and our women have been primary victims.

Governments have started to implement fiscal and other measures to address the most urgent consequences. Multilateral financing institutions, notably the World Bank, the IMF and regional banks have mobilized support.

However, as public finances around the world come under pressure, attracting and leveraging private capital is a critical part of the recovery.

Much more will be required of all of us, and without delay. The scope of this pervasive pandemic clearly demands an extraordinary, inclusive and sustainable global management and recovery process. The world needs a global plan as innovative, ambitious and impactful as the Marshall Plan was to Europe’s recovery after the devastation of World War II. We must seize the opportunity this time around to make  the Global recovery plan; sustainable to our climate and environment, empowering and uplifting of the poor, vulnerable and marginalized in our societies, and supportive of democratic and transparent governance.

We are grateful to our Ministers of Finance and other contributors for putting forward a rich slate of policy options to increase resource availability, address debt and liquidity concerns, and respond to the short, medium and long-term needs of developing countries in particular. The proposals before us focus on the immediate crisis response, securing a recovery that is based on strengthened resilience, and transitioning over the long-term to green, inclusive and sustainable development.

The increased use of virtual platforms as an alternative to the customary physical engagement for human development and business continuity processes, makes it imperative for all countries to have access to digital technology and reliable connectivity. This, therefore, must be a priority area of support for developing countries.

Also of priority concern is the critical need to ensure that vaccines will be accessible to all countries on an equitable basis.

Some interesting proposals have been submitted that merit consideration, not least of which are policy options that address the need for new concessional financing mechanisms.

Colleagues, as we take this process forward, I urge us to gather momentum in implementing viable solutions to the mounting challenges that have continued to beset our countries and peoples. Our survival is fully dependent on managing COVID-19 in this era and beyond.

I thank you.