The President of the World Bank, David Malpass warned the G20 on Saturday that it should spare no resources to provide permanent debt relief to some countries facing rampant increases in poverty levels, as the disastrous ‘defaults’ of the 1980s could be repeated.
Malpass said he was pleased to see the progress of the Group of the 20 largest economies in the world (G-20) to improve transparency in debt agreements and provide greater relief to vulnerable nations, but that more needed to be done.
“Debt reduction and transparency will enable productive investment, key to achieving an earlier, stronger and longer-lasting recovery,” he said. Malpass to G-20 leaders during a meeting by videoconference. “We have to avoid doing too little now and then suffering disorderly defaults and repeated debt restructurings like in the 1980s,” declared.
The so-called “lost decade” of the 1980s left several highly indebted countries in Latin America and other regions unable to meet their debts, delaying economic growth and efforts to reduce poverty rates.
Malpass, who began pushing for restructurings early in the COVID-19 crisis, warned that financing problems were worsening in countries like Chad, Angola, Ethiopia and Zambia, and that the absence of a “permanent debt relief scheme ”Darkened the prospects for poverty reduction.
G20 leaders, meeting for a virtual summit this weekend, are about to formally approve an extension of the temporary freeze on bilateral sovereign debt payments for the most vulnerable nations, and want to adopt a common scheme on future restructurings..
Behind the caso Khashoggi and in the face of criticism from many human rights organizations, Saudi Arabia wanted to take advantage of its G20 presidency to show the world its best image. But the pandemic turned the long-awaited international event into a lackluster videoconference.
The press room at the Crown Plaza Hotel in the capital Riyadh should have been abuzz with hundreds of international journalists. But on Saturday there were only a handful of journalists, wearing the usual mask and forced to undergo temperature tests for two days of remote meetings between the leaders of the world’s main economic powers.
At the opening of the summit, the few foreign media outlets present pointed their cameras at a large screen in which the faces of the leaders appeared in small windows, one looking at their papers, another requesting technical assistance and a third chatting with an assistant. out of the camera’s eye.
In the press room, with walls adorned with chandeliers, the empty workstations illustrated a missed opportunity for Saudi Arabia – the first Arab country to host the G20 – to make the summit a showcase for its modernization.
“It is God’s will,” Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir said fatalistically.
The country wanted to show the reforms undertaken in the last three years, such as the authorization of women to drive or the reopening of cinemas. “It would have been nice to see thousands of people coming to Saudi Arabia, walking the streets, meeting Saudi men and women, seeing the changes that have taken place in the country,” Jubeir said.
A traditional summit would also have been an opportunity to enhance the kingdom’s tourism potential, the so-called “white oil” that the petromonarchy wants to develop to diversify its income.
Despite its stunning scenery, Saudi Arabia, where rigorous Islam rules and alcohol consumption is strictly prohibited, struggles to attract tourists. The press room, with its dreamy Saudi landscapes, could be mistaken for a tourism lounge.
The waiters offer four types of coffee, each from a different part of the country. The books promote Saudi culinary delights or little-known sites, such as the ancient city of Al Ula or the mountainous region of Abha.
On Friday they organized a media dinner in the historic city of Diriyah, near Riyadh, famous for its terracotta architecture, with traditional dances. PBut the shadow of the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi still loomed over the event. At a press conference, Investment Minister Khalid al-Falih was asked whether the repercussions of this crime had caused economic damage to the kingdom.
In a country not used to journalists asking annoying questions, the moderator wanted to avoid the question. But the minister insisted on answering.
“Investors are not journalists, they are looking for countries where they can trust effective government and make good economic decisions,” he said with a shrug.
“The new Saudi Arabia [del príncipe heredero Mohamed bin Salman], we no longer really believe in it. The true reformers of this country are now behind bars, ”said Lina al-Hathloul, sister of one of the feminists arrested in early 2018, Loujain Al-Hathloul, before the summit. “We must take advantage of this summit in which Saudi Arabia will be in the spotlight for a few days to say things publicly,” he told AFP.
With information from Reuters and AFP
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