Global alliance of Parliamentarians urge G7 leaders to head off ‘pandemic of poverty’  

Immediate Release 

Parliamentarians from thirty-four countries have united to call on G7 leaders for a radical three-point plan to stop the Covid pandemic triggering a ‘pandemic of poverty’ in which millions lose their lives and livelihoods. 

The letter coordinated by the Parliamentary Network on the World Bank and International Monetary Fund calls for: 

- A $50 billion plan to vaccinate the world faster backed by grants and concessional financing, a huge surge in donated doses, cooperation on free trade of raw materials and finished vaccines, additional vaccine production capacity of at least one billion doses – and intellectual property waivers.

- Immediate action to agree a new issue of $650 billion of IMF Special Drawing Rights (SDR's) plus a re-allocation of existing SDR’s from richer to poorer nations 

- Immediate action to re-stock World Bank funds for grants, business development and infrastructure loans 

A poll of the Network’s MP’s at its G7 summit today concluded - by a margin of two to one - that the crisis will get worse before it gets better, and three-quarters of MP’s felt richer countries and International Financial Institutions were not doing enough to support poorer nations.  

The letter comes as:

- IMF analysis reveals low income countries will need around US$200 billion to step up the response to the pandemic and build external buffers between now and 2025 plus an additional US$250 billion in investment spending to resume and accelerate their income convergence with advanced economies.   

- The IMF believes the citizens of 33 developing countries will, on average, still be poorer in five years time than they were in 2019.

- The World Bank estimates the external debt stock of 120 low- and middle-income countries has now risen to $8.4 trillion at end-2020, a rise of $220 billion during the course 2020.

- While one in four citizens of high income countries have received a Covid-19 vaccine, only one in more than 500 citizens in Low Income Countries have been given the same protection.

Rt Hon Liam Byrne MP, chair of the Parliamentary Network on the World Bank and International Monetary Fund said: 
“This crisis is far from over. Members of parliament around the world are on the frontline of the crisis and most expect things to get worse before they get better. What’s needed now is ambition to meet the moment. 
“No-one will believe warm words about building back better unless we see a concert of action to deliver vaccines, build up health services, protect children's education and kick-start small and medium sized businesses getting back on their feet and creating jobs.  
“After the agony of loss and sacrifice, we cannot and will not allow the reward to be a new era of extreme poverty.”
ENDS 

Notes to Editors 

1. Text of letter to G7 leaders  

Dear Mr Johnson  

As members of the Parliamentary Network on the World Bank and International Monetary Fund, we write to urge you as the leaders of the G7 to agree a radical action plan with the IMF and World Bank to stop the Covid pandemic now triggering a deep and dangerous pandemic of poverty.

Crucially, we believe it is vital you agree three key steps:

1. Immediate action to accelerate world-wide Covid-19 vaccinations

2. Immediate action to agree both a fresh allocation of $650 billion in IMF Special Drawing Rights and a radical redistribution of surplus SDR’s from richer to poor countries.

3. Immediate action to agree an expansion of grant support for poorer countries along with urgent agreement on IDA20 replenishment.

The global community has moved quickly to tackle the catastrophe of Covid. However;

1. By the so-called “first anniversary,” on 15 December 2020, 1.64 million people were believed to have died due to Covid

2. In the economic shock that has ensued the numbers living in extreme poverty has risen for the first time this century and the pandemic has cost the world’s poorest over 120 million additional years spent in poverty.

3. The IMF believes the citizens of 33 developing countries will, on average, still be poorer in five years time than they were in 2019.

4. The World Bank estimates the external debt stock of 120 low- and middle-income countries has now risen to $8.4 trillion at end-2020, a rise of $220 billion during the course 2020.

5. While one in four citizens of high income countries have received a Covid-19 vaccine, only one in more than 500 citizens in Low Income Countries have been given the same protection.

Bluntly, this crisis is far from over.

We believe therefore it is vital that G7 leaders now agree with the leadership of the IMF and the World Bank, a three-step plan.

1. Vaccinate the world – faster. 

In a global pandemic we know that none of us are safe until everyone is safe. Crucially, there is now no trade off between health policy and economic policy.

- Today, WHO and its COVAX  partners aim to vaccinate 30% of the world’s population this year. With additional agreements and investments this could be doubled by the first half of 2022. But this demands upfront financing, upfront vaccine donations, and upfront precautionary investments and planning. The World Bank’s $12 billion vaccine program is highly welcome. But, IDA countries should not have to go deeper into debt to purchase vaccines.
- The IMF estimates this will require grants and concessional financing of around $50 billion, a huge surge in donated doses, cooperation on free trade of raw materials and finished vaccines, additional vaccine production capacity of at least one billion doses – and crucially, a grand bargain on intellectual property.
- Alongside this, we must boost testing and tracing, oxygen supplies, therapeutic and public health measures delivered through existing infrastructure such as systems supported by WHO, UNICEF, the World Bank and Gavi.

2. Immediate action to agree an issue of new, and reallocation of existing IMF Special Drawing Rights structured to help maximise debt cancellation and minimise conditionality. 

- The Managing Director confirmed in March 2021 that the IMF was exploring a fresh allocation of $650 billion in SDR’s, along with ‘options for members with strong financial positions to reallocate SDRs to support vulnerable and low-income countries.’ It is vital this is now agreed.
- If the new $650 billion allocation is shared on similar lines to 2009, $260 billion in SDR’s could be offered to emerging markets and developing countries, of which $45 billion might go to low-income countries.
- It is vital initiative is structured in a way which boosts debt-free financing for the world’s poorest countries and that re-allocation supports bilateral and multilateral debt cancellation, minimises conditionality, and is additional to the contribution governments are already prepared to make.
- Where richer nations decide to donate unused SDR’s to the Poverty Reduction and Growth Trust (PRGT), leaders should explore improving concessions by extending repayment terms.

3. We need immediate action to agree an expansion of grant support for poorer countries along with urgent agreement on IDA20 replenishment. 

- The World Bank’s work to frontload resources from IDA19 to respond to the crisis was very welcome. This means replenishment is now needed.
- A robust policy package must now be agreed for IDA20 aimed at supporting an end to this pandemic as quickly as possible and propelling IDA countries forward into a stable, more equal, and climate-just recovery.
- In particular, it is vital that donors and the Bank create a mechanism to allow all IDA countries to access debt-free financing for vaccine-related programmes, enhance accountability and transparency around vaccine purchasing and rollouts, build more resilient public health systems which support universal health coverage and support countries in making robust investments in public, universal, quality and free education during the pandemic and the recovery period.
- This must sit alongside clear and ambitious targets for supporting IDA countries developing and implementing their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) to cut carbon emissions, increase investments in renewable energy and green jobs, and expand access to affordable and sustainable energy.

As parliamentarians, we have battled day in, day out to protect the people we serve. We have watched in horror as lives were lost in our communities, and livelihoods destroyed.  There is a global consensus that we must now build back better. But that requires an action plan to take us from the pandemic to the goals of the Paris agreement in which no-one is left behind.

So we ask you to act to stop a pandemic of disease triggering a pandemic of poverty.

Yours ever 

Rt Hon Liam Byrne MP, Chair, Parliamentary Network on the World Bank and IMF, along with: 

Hon. Anastas Angjeli MP, Albania, Chair of the Economy and Finance Committee

Hon. Senida Mesi MP, Albania

Pr. Ammar Moussi, Algeria, Honorary Member of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Mediterranean

Senator Hafida Benchehida, Algeria, Founding Member of the Arab Women Parliamentarian for Parity and Equality

Hon. Petra Bayr MP, Austria

Hon. Muhiuddin Khan Alamgir MP, Bangladesh, Board Member of the Parliamentary Network

Hon. Gwenaelle Grovonius MP, Belgium

Hon. Choining Dorji MP, Bhutan, Member of the National Council

Mr. Alphone Nombre, Burkina Faso, Former President of the CDP Parliamentary Group

Hon. Dissan Gnoumou MP, Burkina Faso

Hon. Fadil Aliyoum MP, Cameroon, Deputy Secretary at the Bureau of the National Assembly

Hon. Mbutoh Njingum Musa MP, Cameroon, Questor

Hon. Pauline Ndoumou MP, Cameroon, Questor

Hon. Amanda Simard MPP, Canada, Member of Provincial Parliament of Ontario

Senator Don Davis, Canada

Hon. Ziad Aboultaif MP, Canada

Hon. Djidengar Ndjendi Bassa MP, Chad

Hon. Issa Mardo Djabir MP, Chad, Chair of the Committee on the Sustainable Development Goals

Hon. Karim Darwish MP, Egypt, Chair of the Foreign Relations Committee

Hon. Merja Kyllönen MEP, Finland

Hon. Hervé Berville MP, France

Senator Joëlle Garriaud-Maylam, France, Senator for French Citizens Abroad

Senator Ammar Patnaik, India

Hon. Jayant Sinha MP, India, Chair of the Standing Committee on Finance

Hon. Claudio Borghi MP, Italy, Member of the Budget, Treasury, and Planning Committee

Hon. Laura Boldrini MP, Italy, Chairperson of the Parliamentary Human Rights Committee

Hon. Marlene Malahoo Forte MP, Jamaica, Attorney General

Hon. Jeta Statovci MP, Kosovo, Vice-chair of the Committee on Economy, Employment, Trade, Industry, Entrepreneurship and Strategic Investments

Hon. Fadi Alame MP, Lebanon

Hon. Willet Karonga MP, Malawi 

Hon. Datuk Seri Shamsul Iskandar Mohd Akin MP, Malaysia, Board Member of the Parliamentary Network

Hon. Ibtissame Azzaoui MP, Morocco

Hon. Dharma Raj Regmi MP, Nepal

Hon. Arsalan Taj Ghumman MP, Pakistan, Member Provincial Assembly of Sindh

Hon. Syed Naveed Qamar MP, Pakistan

Senator Grzegorz Bierecki, Poland

Hon. Filipe Neto Brandão MP, Portugal, Chair of the Budget and Finance Committee

Hon. Pedro Roque Portugal MP, Vice-President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Mediterranean

Hon. Ricado Baptista Leite MP, Portugal, Vice-Chair of the Parliamentary Network

Hon. Ibrahim Tawa Conteh MP, Sierra Leone

Hon. Dr. Elmi Nur MP, Somalia, Chair of the Planning and Finance Sub-Committee

Hon. Cedric Thomas Frolick MP, South Africa, Chairperson of the Steering Committee on Climate Change 

Hon. Hawa A. Ghasia MP, Tanzania

Hon. Anthony Aakol MP, Uganda

Hon. Feryal Clark MP, United Kingdom

Hon. Lisa Cameron MP, United Kingdom

Lord Bruce of Bennachie MP, United Kingdom, Member of the House of Lords

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey, United Kingdom, Member of the House of Lords

Baroness Sheehan, Peer, United Kingdom, Member of Lords Science and Technology Select Committee

Hon. Neale Hanvey MP, United Kingdom, Member of the Health and Social Care Committee

Hon. Patrick Grady MP, United Kingdom

Hon. Philippa Whitford MP, United Kingdom, Shadow SNP Spokesperson of the Health and Social Care Committee

Hon. Taiwo Owatemi MP, United Kingdom, Member of the Health and Social Care Committee

The Rt Hon. The Lord Triesman, United Kingdom, Member of the House of Lords

Hon. Betty McCollum MP, United States of America, Congresswoman, Minnesota's 4rth District

Ms. Nguyen Tuong Van, Vietnam, Secretary General, ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Assembly

Hon. Ruth Labode MP, Zimbabwe, Chair of the Health Committee

Hon. Willias Madzimure MP, Zimbabwe, Second Deputy Speaker