President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday, May 28; appealed to a virtual forum of world leaders backed by the United Nations to consider debt cancellation for developing countries ravaged by the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Buhari explained that this is necessary as a form of relief to these countries.
The forum tagged “High-Level Event on Financing for Development in the Era of COVID-19 and Beyond,” was convened by Canada, Jamaica and the Secretary-General of the UN; Antonio Gutteres, and attended by over 50 world leaders.
According to the president, this global solidarity can only be demonstrated; through debt forgiveness by developed countries and international financial institutions to “needy countries” especially in Africa.
A statement by Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina, said Buhari also appealed to advanced nations to come up with free additional resources; through an international consensus to aid the fight against pandemic by poor countries.
He said the president also advised advanced nations against adopting what he described as a “me first” and “every man for himself” approach; warning that consequences of such attitudes would be detrimental to the wellbeing of all nations in the 21st century.
“The world has changed through COVID-19 and so must the global financing architecture for development financing and the response to the current pandemic.
“There is an urgent need for weak and needy countries especially those of Africa, to receive a fresh reprieve.
“Debts must be forgiven and cancelled. Free additional resources are needed urgently; through an international consensus to enable poor countries to work to reverse the devastations of COVID-19 to the human race.”
Buhari further revealed the impact of the pandemic on the Nigerian economy; and the efforts being made by the government to mitigate the effect of the pandemic.
“For Nigeria, the shocks are multiple; including the sharp decline in international oil prices which has negatively impacted revenues and growth, worsened external and domestic positions; and further increased banking sector vulnerabilities, resulting in the enormous human and economic toll on the country.
“Our objective is to revert to the government’s planned medium-term fiscal consolidation path once the crisis is over.
“Our strategy for macroeconomic stability is anchored on our home-grown Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP),” Buhari stated.
Buhari told the forum that Nigeria had revised its 2020 budget downwards and shifted emphasis to response activities.
This is towards bridging the critical gaps in the health infrastructure to strengthen national response to COVID-19 and other diseases.