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Constructive change in a time of global setbacks

Date: 2020-11-30

Founder of Trust International Insurance Company
Text in English translated from the original article in Arabic 
At the end of the 2020 virtual annual meetings of the IMF and World Bank, the Development Committee, a ministerial-level forum representing 189 member countries of the World Bank Group and the International Monetary Fund, praised the speed and scope of their response to the pandemic, and urged at the same time to continue working with member countries, public and private sectors, local development partners and other international organizations.
The Committee expressed support for the World Bank Group's focus on health, social and economic responses, as well as on the policies, institutions and investments that will be critical to comprehensive and sustainable recovery. The group plays a critical role in major global challenges, by helping the countries concerned to rebuild. Its mission - ending poverty and boosting shared prosperity - as well as supporting the development goals of various countries.
We followed the annual meetings of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank this year and observed two meetings on the humanitarian and social aspects resulting from the outbreak of this epidemic. Focusing on how to return to safe and healthy conditions and return to the time when rescue projects stopped millions of people from the clutches of ignorance, poverty, epidemics and disease.
World Bank Group President David Malpass focused in his speech on the humanitarian dimensions of the crisis - where we referred in the last article to the necessity and importance of addressing this aspect of the consequence of the pandemic. The World Bank projects that between 110 million and 150 million more people will fall into extreme poverty by 2021. Given that the pandemic has caused massive losses of human capital, Malpass highlighted the World Bank's support for distance education in 65 countries, and its partnership with UNICEF and UNESCO on frameworks for reopening schools. Looking ahead, Malpass urged cooperation in support of a comprehensive and resilient recovery, and stated that different countries will have to allow capital, manpower, skills and innovations to move into a different business environment after the end of the pandemic and that during the recovery period it is necessary for the countries concerned to work to achieve their goals.
A careful analysis of these meetings, especially with regard to the human and social aspects, development affairs, and ways to confront poverty, makes us consider the following matters:
This pandemic has led to the largest global economic downturn in the past eight decades: it affects developing, emerging and advanced economies, increases global poverty, exacerbates disparities between classes of society, and harms long-term prospects for economic growth. Economic shutdowns, restrictions and continued uncertainty have reduced investment, trade, remittance flows, eroded employment and human capital, kept children out of school, and put pressure on food and medical supply chains. The crisis may further exacerbate fragility, conflict and violence, as well as intensify its risks. The economic crisis threatens lives and livelihoods among vulnerable groups of the population, the elderly, refugees and the homeless. They widen gender gaps, jeopardizing hard-won development gains and prospects for girls and children in general. In this context, the World Bank Group must be commended for the speed and scope of its response to combat the pandemic in various countries. The group has been at the forefront of multilateral institutions with efforts focused on relief, restructuring, and resilient recovery. We welcome the focus on health, social and economic responses, as well as the policies, institutions and investments that will be critical to an inclusive, sustainable and resilient recovery.
The World Bank Group supports countries' efforts to strengthen health systems and should continue to do so. We stress the importance of an effective Coronavirus vaccine and welcome the recently approved $ 12 billion funding for countries eligible to borrow from the International Development Association and the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development to support vaccine procurement and distribution. We encourage the World Bank Group to help make tests, treatments, and vaccines affordable for developing countries with equal access to them. While the Corona pandemic crisis continues to pose wide-ranging health, economic and social challenges over a long period, we encourage the intensification of work to build strong health systems with comprehensive coverage, and thus increase the level of preparedness and resilience against future epidemics. In this context, digital technologies can ensure that vital medical consultations are provided, educational services continue, and companies are allowed to survive. We therefore welcome the World Bank Group's operations that expand digital connectivity while protecting security and data privacy, expanding digital financial services and supporting digital transformation. These efforts are helping companies cope with the crisis, increase competitiveness, maintain job opportunities, and continue to provide vital services, including education, health, social protection, and access to finance.

It is necessary to stop and praise the World Bank Group, especially after reviewing the list of projects that are due to be implemented in the last quarter of this year, as the volume of commitments reached 45 billion dollars, including 32 billion dollars from the International Bank for Construction