Countries in the region urge rethinking the financing agenda for a sustainable and equal recovery

Within the framework of the thirty-sixth session of the Committee of the Whole of ECLAC, the Executive Secretary of the organization, Alicia Bárcena, presented five innovative proposals for financing development for the region.

The current crisis must be used as an opportunity to rethink the financing program for the development of middle-income countries, such as those in Latin America and the Caribbean. It is the moment to reach a broad social and political consensus which would allow the implementation of ambitious reforms aimed at forging a process of sustainable and egalitarian construction for the future, the representatives of the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean gathered meeting at the thirty-sixth session of the Committee of the Whole of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) approved it today.

The meeting, which was held today at the United Nations Headquarters in New York, was attended by representatives of 37 ECLAC Member States and 3 Associate Members, who approved the work program of the Commission for 2023. and reaffirmed its role as an essential component of the United Nations system, with a view to achieving sustainable development in its three dimensions – economic, social and environmental – in a balanced and integrated manner, at the regional level.

The event was inaugurated by Rodolfo Solano, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Worship of Costa Rica, in his capacity as President of the Plenary Committee of ECLAC, with Alicia Bárcena, Executive Secretary of the Commission, and it included special remarks by Maria Luiza Ribeiro, Chief of Staff of the Office of the Secretary-General of the United Nations, António Guterres.

In his opening remarks, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Costa Rica, Rodolfo Solano, affirmed that ECLAC is an unconditional ally of Latin America and the Caribbean to articulate efforts to better meet the challenges and progress towards the objectives. sustainable development (SDGs).

“Costa Rica has worked closely with the Commission to achieve more inclusive and equitable societies,” he said.

Maria Luiza Ribeiro, for her part, underlined that the work of ECLAC paid particular attention to the effects of COVID-19 and the structural causes of inequalities, poverty and exclusion, in accordance with the Sustainable Development Program in the 2030 horizon.

In her remarks, Alicia Bárcena underlined Costa Rica’s leadership as chair of the Committee of the Whole of ECLAC. In addition, she reported on the activities of the Commission in 2020 and underlined that, despite the pandemic caused by COVID-19, the mandates that countries had given to ECLAC have been fulfilled.

On this occasion, the senior official presented the document An innovative development finance program for recovery in Latin America and the Caribbean, prepared by ECLAC at the request of the Government of Costa Rica.

“COVID-19 has demonstrated the need to tackle the problem of financing for development in middle-income countries. The pandemic has worsened the structural problems of Latin America and the Caribbean in terms of investment, productivity, informality, inequality and poverty ”, stressed Alicia Bárcena in her presentation.

She recalled that Latin America and the Caribbean are currently the most indebted region in the developing world. Gross public debt represents on average 77.7% of regional GDP, although in some cases it exceeds 100% of national GDP, and total debt service accounts for 59% of the region’s exports of goods and services.

“The high level of indebtedness resulting from the fall in tax levies, combined with the increase in current transfers to support households and businesses, has increased the countries’ liquidity needs, despite the great heterogeneity of their budgetary situation and the vulnerability of their debt. This situation has reduced the fiscal space for the implementation of counter-cyclical policies, undermining the capacity of countries to build a better future, ”said the Executive Secretary of ECLAC.

The report proposes an innovative development financing program for the recovery of the region, based on five political actions: i) increase and redistribute liquidity from developed countries to developing countries; ii) strengthen regional cooperation by strengthening the lending and response capacity of regional, subregional and national financial institutions, and strengthening their links with multilateral development banks; (iii) complete the institutional reform of the multilateral debt architecture; (iv) provide countries with a set of innovative instruments aimed at increasing debt repayment capacity and avoiding excessive indebtedness; and (v) integrate liquidity and debt reduction measures into a development finance strategy aimed at building better. On this last point, the document cites the example of the Caribbean Resilience Fund, a trust fund established as a public-private partnership intended to finance strategic interventions throughout the Caribbean to alleviate the difficulties affecting the sub-region.

In their resolutions, the member countries of the Committee of the Whole recognized the efforts of ECLAC to ensure the continuity of its operations and the availability of its products and services, given the challenges imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic, and they reiterated the role of the Commission in supporting the implementation of the 2030 Agenda, as well as in the regional and global response to achieve a sustainable, resilient and inclusive recovery from the pandemic.

In addition, Member States endorsed the change transforming the Committee on South-South Cooperation into a Regional Conference on South-South Cooperation in Latin America and the Caribbean, which will become a subsidiary body of ECLAC that will help support States. members on the southern and triangular cooperation initiatives.

Finally, they ratified that the thirty-ninth session of ECLAC will take place in 2022 in Argentina.

As part of the meeting, Alicia Bárcena announced that she and UN Secretary General António Guterres had agreed that her term as head of the Executive Secretariat of ECLAC will officially end on March 31, 2022.

By video, the Secretary General, António Guterres, hailed Alicia Bárcena’s “stellar leadership” at the head of ECLAC, an institution where she led “a progressive and visionary administration”.

Meanwhile, the Ambassadors present at the meeting expressed their gratitude and appreciation for the work done by Alicia Bárcena, to whom they gave a standing ovation, wishing her the best for the end of her term.

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