UN. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres urges G20 to adopt ‘war-time’ plan with trillions

General Assembly Seventy-third session Informal Briefing by the Secretary-General on his Priorities for 2019

UN. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres urged leaders of the world’s 20 major industrialized nations on Tuesday to adopt a “wartime” plan including a stimulus package “in the trillions of dollars” for businesses, workers and households in developing countries trying to tackle the coronavirus pandemic.

He said in a letter to the Group of 20 leaders that they account for 85% of the world’s gross domestic product and have “a direct interest and critical role to play in helping developing countries cope with the crisis.”

“Let us remember that we are only as strong as the weakest health system in our interconnected world,” the U.N. chief said. “We must create the conditions and mobilize the resources necessary to ensure that developing countries have equal opportunities to respond to this crisis in their communities and economies.”

Guterres warned: “Anything short of this commitment would lead to a pandemic of apocalyptic proportions affecting us all.”

U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric said G20 leaders are expected to hold a virtual meeting Thursday.

Guterres, who will participate in the meeting, said a coordinated stimulus package in the trillions of dollars “would include scaling up cash transfer measures, social protection, tax abatement, fiscal stimulus, low interest rates, access to credit, insurance and wage support schemes.”

The secretary-general stressed that “these expansionary policies must be accompanied by a clear repudiation of protectionism.”

“I urge G-20 leaders to commit to ban tariffs, quotas or non-tariff measures, and remove restrictions on cross-border trade that affect the deployment of medical equipment, medicines and other essential goods to fight the epidemic,” Guterres said.

He also encouraged countries to waive sanctions to allow delivery of food, health supplies, medical equipment and support for the COVID-19 crisis, saying: “This is the time for solidarity, not exclusion.”