UN leader Antonio Guterres on Saturday slammed the world’s rich nations and energy giants for strangling poor countries with “predatory” interest rates and crippling fuel prices.
Guterres told a summit of the most deprived states on the planet that wealthier countries should provide $500 billion a year to help others “trapped in a vicious cycle” that is failing their efforts to boost economies and improve health and education. block attempts.
The summit of the 46 least developed countries (LDCs) is normally held every 10 years, but has been delayed twice to 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Afghanistan and Myanmar, the two poorest countries, are not present at the meeting in Doha because their governments are not recognized by UN members.
Leaders of any major economy of the world did not participate in it.
At the opening of the summit, Guterres hit out directly at the way poorer nations treat more powerful ones.
“Economic growth is challenging when countries are starved of resources, drowning in debt, and still grappling with the historical injustice of an unequal COVID-19 response,” he said.
LDCs have long been complaining that they did not get their fair share of Covid vaccines focused on Europe and North America.
Guterres said, “Combating a climate disaster that you did nothing about is challenging when capital costs are skyrocketing” and the financial aid received is “a drop in the bucket”.
“The fossil fuel giants are making huge profits while millions of people in your countries can’t put food on the table.”
Guterres said the poorest countries were being left behind in the “digital revolution” and that the Ukraine war had only increased the prices paid for food and fuel.
“Our global financial system was designed by rich countries, largely to their advantage,” he said.
“Deprived of cash, many of you have been locked out of capital markets by predatory interest rates,” the UN leader said.
Rich countries had failed to keep their promise of giving 0.15-0.20 per cent of their gross national income to the LDCs.
Guterres said poor states are caught in a “perfect storm to perpetuate poverty and injustice”, calling LDCs the “minimum” to help them overcome their problems, build job-generating industries and pay down debt. $500 billion per year is needed.
Wealthy countries have also pledged hundreds of billions of dollars to help poorer states to help fight climate change, but have been unsuccessful. Guterres said the UN would “keep pressing for the resources already promised”.
The chairman of the summit, President Lazarus Chakwera of Malawi, also hit out at the “broken promises” made by the international community.
He said the aid was “not a favor or an act of charity” but a “moral responsibility”.
Under the proposals, called the Doha Program of Action, a food storage system would be set up to help countries facing a hunger crisis through drought and high prices.
The plan also calls for an investment hub to help LDCs attract foreign funding and lower interest rates to reduce the impact of their loans.
Bhutan will this year become one of seven countries to “graduate” from LDC status by 2026, along with Bangladesh, Laos, Nepal, Angola, Sao Tome and Principe and the Solomon Islands.
But they would gradually lose trade and aid privileges. Guterres said they “risk becoming victims of the most brutal ploy – having their support system disappear before their eyes” and that they would need help once the money scaled up.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)
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