COVID-19 causing greatest economic recession in 100 years — Bárcena

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COVID-19 causing greatest economic recession in 100 years — Bárcena

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

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NEW YORK, United States — Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) Alicia Bárcena says the COVID-19 pandemic is causing the greatest economic recession of the last 100 years, with a fall of -7.7 per cent in regional GDP, as well as widespread increases of poverty and inequality.

She was speaking at the 12th Ministerial Forum for Development in Latin America and the Caribbean — a three-day virtual meeting where global and regional sustainable development experts and top government officials come together to discuss the way forward for development in the region beyond COVID-19 response and recovery — which kicked off today.

Bárcena said that in order to build a new future through a transformative recovery with equality and sustainability “we need to forge political and fiscal compacts to lay the foundation for a universal welfare State in Latin America and the Caribbean”.

The ECLAC noted that the COVID-19 pandemic found Latin America and the Caribbean with a series of pre-existing conditions including high inequality, fragmented social contracts, low productivity and growth, little trust in public institutions, and fiscal weakness.

It said that it is in this context that COVID in the region quickly went from being a health crisis to an economic one and, in some cases, even a governance crisis.

As with the effects of the virus on organisms with pre-existing medical conditions, the pandemic interacted in some Latin American and Caribbean countries with structural deficiencies threatening decades of development progress, the commission explained.

“As Latin America and the Caribbean moves to build more resilient and cohesive societies, adequate social protection systems that are sustainable and leave no one behind, and foster productivity, need to be at the centre of reform efforts,” said United Nations Development Programme Administrator Achim Steiner.

The forum will focus on three critical areas for development: moving forward strengthened social protection and fiscal systems; inclusive digital transformation; and effective governance.

The forum also includes the fourth Meeting of the Presiding Officers of the Regional Conference on Social Development in Latin America and the Caribbean, which is chaired by the government of Mexico. 

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