Liberia’s Finance and Development Planning Minister, Samuel D. Tweah, Jr. Liberia’s Finance and Development Planning Minister, Samuel D. Tweah, Jr.

‘Until the last country is free of the pandemic, no country is safe’ - Liberia’s Finance Minister Asserts Featured

Liberia’s Finance and Development Planning Minister, Samuel D. Tweah, Jr., has said COVID-19 is as much an economic crisis as it is a global health pandemic. He recalled that since the onset of the pandemic, the international community and the world have rallied together incredibly to contain the spread.

He said the world has moved beyond lockdowns with their staggering economic costs, as strong financial support availed to countries from the international community has enabled them minimize economic impacts from the disease.

Making remarks on COVID-19, Vaccine Access and Deployment Delivered at the IMF African Caucus Meeting, Minister Tweah, who is Liberia’s Governor to the International Monetary Fund, further asserted that beyond the huge economic impact already wrought since the onset of COVID-19, new surges continue to pose significant risks to lives and livelihoods across countries and to impose huge disruptions and costs on global supply chains, further complicating the macroeconomic situations of African countries reeling and recovering from the devastations of the pandemic.

“Fragile and low-income countries are especially vulnerable. While these disruptive impacts have been projected to last well into the middle of next year, the world has reached the inevitable consensus that COVID-19 is here to stay and that we will have to find a way to coexist with the disease.

The accepted enabler of this coexistence has been the rapid development, deployment and delivery of vaccines as a public good to the people of our common world, alongside adequate COVID-19 testing. Effective vaccine delivery that enables countries to reach the World Health Organization’s target for herd immunity is the globally recognized means to sustain economic recovery from the pandemic. Although recovery is underway, it has been uneven and disproportionately slow for low- and most middle- income countries, casting the vaccine program in Africa in a rather dire and exigent relief,” Minister Tweah pointed out.

According to him, Africa’s recovery continues to be punctuated by surges of new Covid-19 variants and by delayed and limited access to vaccines, imperiling the already fragile economic outlook on the continent.

These vaccine delays and limitations, he stated, heighten inherent reinfection risks, even for countries with good vaccination programs and campaigns, asserting that, “Also, vaccine deprived countries may offer incubation opportunities for virus mutations, enhancing the specter to unnecessarily prolong the duration of the pandemic. Hence, until the last country is free of the pandemic, no country is safe.”

The top Liberian government official, who earlier expressed thanks for the opportunity to discuss critical issues facing the African sub-region, then commended the World Bank Group’s efforts to expand the vaccine envelope to $20 billion, provide advisory support and collaborate with partners to prepare for the scaling-up of vaccine acquisition and deployment. “

“We commend the European Union for its strong support to the COVAX vaccine facility, which is the major conduit for delivering vaccines to the continent of Africa. We especially thank the United States Government for being the largest single donor to COVAX. However, despite these efforts, vaccine access, affordability and vaccine hesitancy continue to impede the response efforts and vaccination campaigns in many Sub-Saharan African countries. As of September 14, 5.7 billion doses of vaccine have been administered globally, but less than 2 percent of these are in Africa. About 77 percent of vaccines produced to date have gone to wealthy nations, with less than one percent going to low-income countries. About 60 percent of the world’s wealthiest population has been fully vaccinated, while only a paltry 4.4 percent of Africa’s population has been vaccinated.”

Minister Tweah, among other things, concluded by advancing several recommendations.

He urged vaccine pledgers to expeditiously honor their commitments to channel surplus doses to low-income countries and also encouraged stronger coordination, transparency, and information sharing globally to demystify the very complex vaccine supply landscape.

“We encourage the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund to expand their lending envelops and boost lending flexibility to ensure countries can have recourse to improve their pandemic response programs. This could include increased knowledge sharing, advisory support and collaboration with client countries, the COVAX Facility and the African Vaccine Acquisition Task Team (AVATT) to help African countries acquire safe, effective, and affordable vaccines on time. We also encourage the Fund to ensure that the proposed resilience sustainability trust can adequately mitigate the funding gaps of Low Income Countries and aid the rebuilding of structural damage due to the pandemic.” Tweah mentioned.

“And we encourage richer countries to generally pledge their surplus SDRs for Africa’s transformation and for imparting equity to the global financial landscape. On a per capita income basis, Africa is where Latin America used to be 40 years ago.

This is a staggering reality and an unsustainable growth path for the continent. The forces responsible for this are not just economic, Madam Managing Director. Only a significant rebalancing of international resource flows, hedged by necessary risk mitigations and obviously buoyed by responsible leadership and governance from leaders on the continent, that sees Africa as a global strategic partner intermediating trade and political tensions between richer and developed nations, can place the continent on a credible and sustainable path of transformation.

Recent SDR reallocations are a good start. Further SDR pledges from richer countries would commence the recognition of this strategic partnership. Some of this SDR re-pledging can even be used to take Africa to the 70 % vaccine target in 2022 so that we are all safe in our one and common world,” Tweah added.

Meanwhile, the Caucus panelists and the correspondent topics were, Hon. Samuel D. Tweah, Jr.-on COVID-19, Vaccine Access and Equity, Madam Marie Makangu Kabedi Mbuyi, Governor of the Central Bank of the Democratic Republic of Congo-on SDR re-channeling abs investment flows, Hon. Sitiumbeko Musokotwane, Finance Minister, Zambia, on Debt Resolution and the G20 Common Framework on Debt Treatments Beyond the DSSS, Hon. Tarek Amer, Governor of the Bank of Egypt-on Digitalization and Digital Money and Hon. Domitien Ndihokubwayo, who chaired the meeting, is Minister of Finance and Planning of Burundi and Chair of the 2021 Caucus.

The Finance Minister of Morocco will assume leadership for 2022. This year’s event was attended by over 300 officials from ministries of finance and central banks. On October 25th, African Governors from the Bank will meet President Malpass, and the discussion would center around key topics including Energy and the new IDA allocation.

Login to post comments