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COVID-19: AfDB President, Adesina seeks suspension of debts for low-income countries

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President of the African Development Bank Group, Dr. Akinwunmi Adesina is advocating the suspension of debts owed by low-income countries in view of “these fast-moving and uncertain times.”

Adesina, reviewing the possible impact of the Coronavirus pandemic on developing countries, said that the crisis demands that “we must put lives above resources and health above debt.”

“Developing economies are the most vulnerable at this time. Our remedies must go beyond simply lending more. We must go the extra mile and provide countries with much-needed and urgent financial relief — and that includes developing countries under sanctions,” he said in a statement yesterday.

He added: “These are very difficult days, as the world faces one of its worst challenges ever: the novel coronavirus pandemic. And it seems almost no nation is spared. As infection rates rise, so does panic across financial markets, as economies drastically slow down and supply chains are severely disrupted.

“Extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures. As such, it can no longer be business as usual.

“Each day, the situation evolves and requires constant reviews of precautionary measures and strategies. In the midst of all this, we must all worry about the ability of every nation to respond to this crisis. And we must ensure that developing nations are prepared to navigate these uncharted waters fully.

“That’s why I support the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’ urgent call for special resources for the world’s developing countries.”

Adesina added:  “Today, the already stretched systems as noted in the 2019 Global Health Security Index will find it difficult to face up to a clear and present danger that now threatens our collective existence.

“Only those that are alive can pay back debts. Sanctions work against economies but not against the virus. If countries that are under sanctions are unable to respond and provide critical care for their citizens or protect them, then the virus will soon “sanction” the world.

“That’s why I also strongly support the call by the UN Secretary-General that debts of low-income countries be suspended in these fast-moving and uncertain times.”

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