Ahead of G20, UN chief warns ‘developing world on precipice of financial ruin’

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned that “the developing world is on the precipice of financial ruin.” (Screenshot: G20)
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Updated 20 November 2020

Ahead of G20, UN chief warns ‘developing world on precipice of financial ruin’

  • A final statement will be released by G20 leaders after they meet by video conference on Saturday
  • “We cannot let the COVID pandemic lead to a debt pandemic,” Guterres told reporters

UNITED NATIONS: UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned on Friday that “the developing world is on the precipice of financial ruin and escalating poverty, hunger and untold suffering” as the world struggles to combat the coronavirus pandemic.

His message came ahead of a meeting of the leaders of the Group of 20 nations and big emerging powers this weekend.

“We cannot let the COVID pandemic lead to a debt pandemic,” Guterres told reporters.

He has been pushing the G20 to further extend and expand debt service suspension to help developing and middle-income economies recover from the pandemic and for the allocation of Special Drawing Rights (SDR) and a voluntary reallocation of existing Special Drawing Rights.

“I am pushing for a further extension through the end of 2021 and, critically, to expand the scope of these initiatives to all developing and middle-income countries in need,” Guterres said.

A final statement will be released by leaders from the US, China and other G20 nations after they meet by video conference on Saturday.

“We face epic policy tests. But ultimately, there is a moral test. The trillions of dollars needed for COVID recovery is money that we are borrowing from future generations. Every last penny,” Guterres said.

“We cannot use those resources to lock in policies that burden them with a mountain of debt on a broken and dangerous planet,” he said.


Indian farmers defiant against reform as Modi tries to calm anger

Updated 22 min 32 sec ago

Indian farmers defiant against reform as Modi tries to calm anger

  • The government on Saturday invited farmers’ union leaders for talks on new legislation to deregulate agriculture
  • Small growers worry they will be left vulnerable to big business

NEW DELHI: Thousands of Indian farmers, angry over reform of the agriculture sector, held a third day of protests on the outskirts of the capital on Sunday, blocking roads into the city and defying a government appeal to move to a designated site.
The government on Saturday invited farmers’ union leaders for talks on new legislation to deregulate agriculture but that has not calmed farmers’ anger over what many see “anti-farm laws,” and their action appeared to be spreading.
“We will stay put here today,” said Rakesh Tikait, spokesman of the Bharatiya Kisan Union, one of more than 30 protesting unions, as he and his members blocked a road on the eastern approaches to Delhi.
The farmers object to legislation introduced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government in September that would let farmers sell their produce anywhere, including to big corporate buyers like Walmart, not just at government-regulated wholesale markets where growers are assured of a minimum price.
Small growers worry they will be left vulnerable to big business and could eventually lose price support for staples such as wheat and rice.
Modi sought to allay farmers’ concerns on Sunday.
“From these reforms, farmers will get new rights and opportunities,” he said in his monthly radio address.
But one farm union leader said many protesters were demanding that the government withdraw the laws.
“The farmers’ leaders will meet later on Sunday to decide their response to the government,” he said, referring to the government’s call for talks.
The protests began with farmers from the northern states of Haryana and Punjab on the outskirts of New Delhi on Friday, when police fired tear gas and water cannon in a bid to disperse them.
But instead farmers from the neighboring state of Uttar Pradesh joined in over the weekend, blocking roads to the east of the capital.
Media reported protests by farmers in the southern states of Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Kerala on Saturday.
Prices of fresh produce prices at wholesale markets in the city began to tick up and commuters have faced travel disruption. (Reporting by Manoj Kumar; Editing by Euan Rocha, Robert Birsel)