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The Ministers of Finance from the Intergovernmental Authority (IGAD) member states have committed to raise emergency fund to combat COVID-19 and mitigate its adverse economic effects.
The IGAD Executive Secretary Dr Workneh Gebeyehuconvened a video teleconference for the Finance Ministers on Thursday following the meeting of the regional Health Ministers the previous day.
The video teleconference was chaired by the Minister of Finance of Sudan, Dr. Ibrahim Elbadawi and attended by his counterpartsIlyas Moussa Dawaleh of Djibouti, Ahmed Shide of Ethiopia, Amb. Ukur Yatani Knacho of Kenya, Garang Mabior of South Sudan and Uganda’s Matia Kasaija.
The Minister of Finance of Sudan expressed the willingness of his country to ensure that ‘the COVID-19 doesn’t translate into a recession curve’ for the region and its people.
“The IGAD region ‘cannot afford to be complacent’ in the face of the current threat. I welcome the initiative for a regional response in the context of promoting cooperation and ensuring that not only work is done at country level but also on a regional basis to mitigate the potential fall-out and impact of the COVID-19 on the economies of the region,” he said.
Meanwhile the Executive Secretary noted that despite threat to lives, COVID-19 is also likely to cause severe disruption of ‘livelihoods, social and economic security’ forthe 270 million people of the region.
“If we do not act fast to arrest it and minimise its impact, the virus has the potential to mutate into a social and economic catastrophe,” said Dr. Workneh before putting forward a Draft Call for Action for deliberation and adoption.
The European Union Commissioner for International Partnerships, Ms. Jutta Urpilainen commended IGAD holding ameeting of Health Ministers, Finance Ministers and Heads of State Summit of March 30.
She announced the setting-up of an EU financial package inimmediate humanitarian assistance and support for the strengthening of health systems and mitigation of the economic crisis.
During the meeting, the ministers considered the outlines of the collective IGAD Regional Response Strategy to the COVID-19 pandemic presented to them by the Secretariat and deliberated on the establishment of a Regional Ministerial Taskforce to coordinate the response.
They also exchanged on mobilizing support domestically and from the International Community torespond to COVID-19 and minimize impacts on the economies. They looked into costing, budgeting and mobilizing the monetary resources required to underwrite the current needs of the region including debt relief and cancellation as well requesting access to financial assistance for all IGAD member states.
The global growth rate is projected to be 1.8%, which denotes a recession.