PM Modi moots G-20 action plan to jointly combat coronavirus at virtual meet

New Delhi, March 26: The first-ever virtual summit of the G-20 group of nations on Thursday decided to spare no effort, both individually and collectively, to combat Covid-19 and its disastrous effects on trade and informal employment.

The chair of the G-20 King Salman of Saudi Arabia indicated that another virtual summit of G-20 besides sectoral groups of Finance and Heath Ministers will pick up the threads of the resolve expressed at today’s summit.

These meetings will consider work on a joint G-20 action paper that is currently under deliberation.

In addition to world leaders such as Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin, Xi Jinping, Narendra Modi and Boris Johnson, the chief of IMF, World Bank, WHO and OECD attended the meeting which was closed door and under Chatham House rules.

The G-20 basically looked at the broad contours of the cooperation and not at specific areas. No leader was keen on defining the timeline though the expectation is that this would be temporary. But there was a sense we would come out of it and leaders were looking at a situation on dealing with the aftermath.

In his intervention, PM Modi underlined the need for a collective G-20 effort to combat the epidemic since 90 per of the deaths have taken place in the member countries.

This was the G-20’s first meeting at summit level to deal with an issue that is not financial or economic in nature but related to a social and humanitarian crises. It also disproved the skeptics such as the former UK Chancellor Gordon Brown who had ruled out such a meeting of international community because each country would be self focused.

Besides asking the Bretton Woods institutions to provide easy credit to countries in distress and ensuring adequate financing to contain the pandemic and protect people, especially the most vulnerable, the G-20 joint statement resolved to share timely and transparent information about epidemiological and clinical data.

The summit has also asked the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and OECD to monitor the pandemic’s impact on employment. It also decided to strengthen the WHO’s mandate in coordinating the international fight against the pandemic, including the protection of front-line health workers and delivery of medical supplies.

The G-20 noted that it was collectively injecting over$ 5 trillion into the global economy, as part of a targeted fiscal policy, economic measures and guarantee schemes to counteract the social, economic and financial impacts of the pandemic.

 The leaders also dwelt on the need for quickly production of diagnostic kits. At the end of the day, the emphasis was on collaborating to address this one major common challenge facing humankind.