UNITED NATIONS - U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres urged leaders of the worldâ€™s 20 major industrialized nations on Tuesday to adopt a â€śwartimeâ€ť plan including a stimulus package â€śin the trillions of dollarsâ€ť 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 percent of the worldâ€™s gross domestic product and have â€śa direct interest and critical role to play in helping developing countries cope with the crisis.â€ť
â€śLet us remember that we are only as strong as the weakest health system in our interconnected world,â€ť the U.N. chief said. â€śWe 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.â€ť
Guterres warned: â€śAnything short of this commitment would lead to a pandemic of apocalyptic proportions affecting us all.â€ť
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 â€śwould include scaling up cash transfer measures, social protection, tax abatement, fiscal stimulus, low interest rates, access to credit, insurance and wage support schemes.â€ť
The secretary-general stressed that â€śthese expansionary policies must be accompanied by a clear repudiation of protectionism.â€ť
â€śI 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,â€ť 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: â€śThis is the time for solidarity not exclusion.â€ť