Unprecedented socioeconomic measures imperative to reduce COVID-19 effects: Finance Minister Dr Khatiwada

Video conference with representatives of WB, ADB, IMF, IFC, AIDB, UN

RSS (KATHMANDU, 10 April 2020) – Finance Minister Dr Yubaraj Khatiwada has said the adverse situation emerged with the COVID-19 at present is the biggest humanitarian and financial crisis of the twenty-first century. “The crises in the past were either human or financial and occurred over times. But the present crisis is both the human and economic together,” he observed, adding that it has wider area with bigger intensity. So, huge socioeconomic measure has been essential to cope up with this adversity, he stressed.

Minister Khatiwada was putting forth such views at a discussion government held on ‘coronavirus effects on Nepali economy and livelihood’ with the high level officials from multi-sectoral development bank, International Monetary Fund, International Financial Corporation and UN agencies in Kathmandu on Friday. It was the video conference Finance Minister Dr Khatiwada held.

The issues as Nepali economy, health sector, daily livelihood, and government’s efforts made so far to prevent and control the spread of coronavirus and future strategy featured significantly during the video conference. Minister Khatiwada said although the solution to this global crises warrants global efforts, partnership and cooperation, national efforts count much to solve the problems within the country border. “Nepal won’t leave any stone unturned to take measures for prevention and control of COVID-19,” he assured, adding that the government was however in need of international, regional and bilateral assistance to this regard.

He further stated that development partners’ attention would be drawn on various aspects of international assistance because only traditional assistance policy, programmes and measures could not suffice at this moment, but innovative one. Stating that Nepal can only brave this crisis with additional resources in the existing set up, Minister Khatiwada spoke of the need to ease off the procedure, conditions for the development aid. He also batted for extending the timeline for paying the interest of the foreign loan.

Calling for consideration from the donor agencies for waiver of bilateral foreign loan assistance, the Minister argued that such a gesture would help augment investment for the physical infrastructures for health sector and to revitalize small economy like Nepal. The development partners had approved Nepal’s proposal to form a committee in convenorship of secretary at Finance Ministry to mobilize the internal and external resources to prevent and control COVID-19 and treat the infected. The committee will also include the representatives from the private sector and donor agencies.

The representatives of the donor agencies during the video conference pledged their utmost support for the committee which will facilitate the mobilization of the internal and external resources for COVID-19 related situations. They also appreciated the steps taken by Nepal to tackle the deadly infection and reaffirmed their commitment for their continued support. They univocally called for concerted effort to get over this pandemic which is taking a toll worldwide. During the video conference, the participants discussed on wide range of issues from medical equipment for tackling COVID-19 to the pandemic-induced decline in the economic sectors as well as the exchange of international cooperation at the time of health crisis like this.

Representatives from the World Bank, International Monetary Fund, International Finance Cooperation, Asian Development Bank, Asian Infrastructure Development Bank, United Nations and the World Bank participated in the video conference. From Nepal’s side, Governor of the Nepal Rastra Bank Maha Prasad Adhikari, Secretary of the Ministry of Finance Sishir Kumar Dhungana and Secretary (Revenue) at the Ministry of Finance Ram Sharan Pudasaini among others were present.

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