WASHINGTON: The International Monetary Fund (IMF) urged the international community to make a low-cost universal vaccine available to stop the outbreak of the deadly coronavirus.
The Covid-19 pandemic, which started in December 2019 in China, had killed nearly 150,000 people worldwide on Friday afternoon and infected more than 2.2 million.
In its 2020 Fiscal Monitor report, the IMF underscored the need for "global coordination for a low-cost, universal vaccine and to support countries with limited health capacity."
The report, released in Washington this week, called on governments to take "quick and concerted" measures "commensurate with the severity" of the health crisis, with fiscal tools that play a major role.
"Countries could be vulnerable to new waves of social unrest … if support measures are deemed insufficient to mitigate the COVID-19 crisis and its economic consequences or as unfair in favoring the wealthy," added the IMF.
The report urged governments to continue their support measures until the situation stabilizes because withdrawing them now could lead to further unrest.
"Price increases in basic goods and energy products or reductions in public wages are more likely to face strong opposition because they threaten the livelihoods of vulnerable segments of the population," the IMF warned.
Similarly, taking away significant benefits from a social group can mount strong opposition, particularly from the urban middle class, the report adds.
"High or increasing levels of poverty and inequality, particularly in countries with weak social safety nets, can contribute to the unrest," the IMF reminded governments. "Protests are also more likely in countries with a history of widespread corruption, lack of transparency in public policies and poor service delivery."
Underlining measures to prevent riots, the Fund said a key priority was to fully accommodate spending on health and emergency services.
“Extensive, temporary and targeted support is urgently needed for affected workers and businesses until the emergency subsides. As closings end, coordinated broad-based fiscal stimulus, where financing conditions allow, will be more effective in fostering recovery, ”the IMF explained.
The organization warned that some countries were more vulnerable than others to new protests, particularly if political actions to mitigate the Covid-19 crisis "were perceived as insufficient or unfairly favoring large corporations over people."
The protests were "more likely in countries with a history of widespread corruption, lack of transparency in public policies and poor service delivery," the report added.
He noted that in the past two years there has been a growing fight around the world for economic policies.
Protests erupted in Ecuador, Haiti and Iran over rising fuel prices, in France over pension reforms, and in Chile, where an increase in public transportation fares sparked riots.
Posted in Dawn, April 18, 2020