We asked Guyana’s Minister of Finance Winston Jordan how COVID-19 has impacted his country. “As businesses falter and fail, government

revenues have begun to decline, unemployment levels are beginning to climb, vulnerability and poverty are on the increase, as is the risk of hunger,” Jordan explained. “So even as we experience falling revenue streams, we now have to allocate unplanned and massive sums of money for the health response to the pandemic, to providing social safety nets and to ring-fence businesses from liquidity problems.” • Read our interview with Winston Jordan on pages 14-15.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) reports that major epidemics this century have raised income inequality and hurt the employment prospects of those with only a basic education, while scarcely affecting employment of people with advanced degrees. See the IMF’s graph (1.3, below left), which traces distributional effects in the five years following five major events: SARS (2003), H1N1 (2009), MERS

(2012), Ebola (2014) and Zika (2016). On average, the IMF finds, the Gini coefficient (a commonly-used measure of inequality) has increased steadily in the aftermath of these events: “Our results show that inequality increases despite the efforts of governments to redistribute incomes from the rich to the poor to mitigate the effects of pandemics. After five years, the net Gini has gone up by nearly 1.5 percent, which is a large impact given that this measure moves slowly over time.” Commenting on the COVID-19 situation,

OPEC Fund Director-General Dr Abdulhamid Alkhalifa said: “The major risk is that the current pandemic could undo many years of development work across all sectors – particularly affecting Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 8 on decent work and economic growth and SDG 3 on health, but also across all 17 goals, which are deeply interlinked. “The OPEC Fund is working with public and private sector development actors to stimulate the economy and create employment across all developing countries as well as assisting with

urgent healthcare priorities. We will continue to fast-track assistance to those worst affected countries as we have done since the beginning of the pandemic. “We will also continue to provide financing to build essential infrastructure, strengthen social services and promote productivity, competitiveness and trade, focusing on projects that meet essential needs – such as food, energy, infrastructure, employment (particularly relating to micro-, small- and medium-sized enterprises), clean water and sanitation, healthcare and education. “Our only chance to limit the pain of

COVID-19 for the most vulnerable communities is if the entire international development community pulls together and works with governments and the private sector to help build back better. We have already begun this work.”

9 PHOTOS: World Day/; Paul Vinten/

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