Least Developed Countries Appeal for “Global Stimulus Package” to Combat COVID-19 and its Economic Aftershocks

NEW YORK 28 April 2020 – At a briefing today coordinated by UN-OHRLLS, ambassadors from the Least Developed Countries (LDCs) presented an urgent "global stimulus package for LDCs" to the Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations, Ms Amina Mohammed.  

The meeting heard that COVID-19 is unfolding in LDCs and that confirmed numbers are likely to be the tip of the iceberg as most of the LDCs have insufficient testing capacity. 

What is already happening on the ground, according to ambassadors, is that the LDCs are suffering severe consequences of the pandemic beyond health. The price of commodities, exports, investment, remittances and tourism have all collapsed, and all will have long-term ripple effects.  

The looming global recession will hit the LDCs hard with disproportionate consequences. 

The United Nations does not consider COVID-19 just a health crisis, the DSG said. It is a human crisis that has exposed so many weaknesses across the world. It has exposed vulnerabilities, and reminded us that while our economies are on pause, issues that negatively affect LDCs most, like poverty and climate change, are not. 

To respond to such a mammoth intersected crisis, ambassadors informed the DSG that already announced support and assistance are not sufficient for LDCs. They requested significantly scaled up international support, alongside stronger domestic measures.  

The appropriate response to this, “a global stimulus package for LDCs” needs to be funded and implemented with immediate effect, they said. 

The full details of the package can be found here and includes the following immediate-term requests: 

  1. Emergency public health package for LDCs:  including personal protective equipment (PPE) and testing kits; ventilators; medical doctors and nurses to LDCs upon request to train and treat; and the lifting of all tariffs and non-tariff restrictions on the import of medical equipment by LDCs.   
  2. Support for social protection systems: an immediate allocation of $5.2 billion emergency assistance as direct budgetary support to Governments emergency assistance in the form of cash or food to at least 350 million poor people in LDCs for a period of 12 months. 
  3. Education support for students: the provision of digital equipment, including low-cost laptops or other devices, to support the millions of LDC students forced to stay away from education, including 111 million girls.  
  4. Provide 0.15 per cent of ODA to LDCs: at least 0.15 per cent of the GNI of Development Partner countries to be given to LDCs this year, which is the lower bound of their pledges.  
  5. Full debt cancellation: debt relief for all LDCs with immediate effect, to include rivate and commercial debt. 
  6. Lifting trade barriers and scaling up aid for trade: complete elimination of tariffs and non-tariff barriers by our partners on health-related products for LDCs. 
  7. Additional allocation including increased SDR allocation for LDCs: increased resources for LDCs from Poverty Reduction and Growth Trust, the Rapid Financing Instrument and the Rapid Credit Facility as well as other multilateral windows. 
  8. Protect migrants of LDCs and promote their remittances for host countries of migrant workers to extend the same social protection and safety net measures as provided to their nationals, and to waive transaction fees of remittances of LDC nationals until the pandemic is completely over. 

LDC ambassadors also called for medium-to-long-term measures, including adequate, affordable and rapid supply of vaccines/immunization and antiviral drugs related to COVID-19, when they are developed. 

They also said that the quality, availability and affordability of internet and other online related facilities must be enhanced, especially in rural areas of LDCs. 

To read the full stimulus document, see here


Photo: A boy studies at home due to coronavirus-related school closures, listening to his lessons on the radio every day in Rwanda. OCHA