UN chief denounces 'predatory rates' applied to poor countries
Antonio Guterres asks developed countries for aid of 500 billion dollars a year.
United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres has told the world's 46 poorest states that rich nations should provide billions of dollars a year to support them.
En end the hypocrisy and finally act? The Secretary General of the United Nations on Saturday accused the world economic system of benefiting only rich countries, at the opening of the summit of the Least Developed Countries (LDCs) in Doha.
Antonio Guterres called on developed countries for some $500 billion a year in aid for the poorest, stuck in vicious circles that prevent the reform of their economies and the resuscitation of education and health systems.
Economic development is difficult when countries lack resources, are crippled by debt and are still struggling with the historical injustice of an uneven response to COVID-19 , he said while the poorest countries have repeatedly denounced an unfair distribution of vaccines, concentrated in Europe and North America.
The 5th Conference on Least Developed Countries (LDCs5) opened on Saturday in Doha .
Fighting a climate catastrophe that you did not cause is a challenge when the cost of capital explodes and the financial assistance received is a drop of water in the ocean, Mr. Guterres added.
“Our global financial system was designed by rich countries, largely for their benefit. Starved of cash, many of you are being squeezed out of capital markets by predatory interest rates.
—Antonio Guterres, Secretary General of the United Nations
Leaders and representatives from 33 African countries, 12 Asia-Pacific countries and Haiti were meeting in Doha 50 years after the UN created the LDC category, which was supposed to bring particular international support for its most vulnerable members.
Saturday's summit precedes Sunday's start of the LDC general conference, which will focus on getting out of the extreme poverty.
But while an action plan for LDCs was adopted at the UN General Assembly last year for the period 2022-2031, no promise of financial contribution is scheduled in Qatar, during a meeting postponed twice by the coronavirus.
Afghanistan and Burma are absent, for lack of governments recognized by members of the UN.
And no head of state or government from a rich country was expected in the Qatari capital, sitting on a colossal reserve of gas and whose wide avenues are traversed by luxurious air-conditioned 4X4s, as were football stadiums during the recent world cup.
Fossil energy giants reap huge profits when millions of people in your countries cannot put food on the table, denounced the secretary general.
The UN denounces fossil fuel producers who reap profits but whose populations are starving. (File photo)
Rich countries have failed to deliver on their promises to give between 0.15 and 0.20 percent of their gross domestic product to stuck LDCs in the perfect storm to perpetuate poverty and injustice, he noted.
And their situation got even worse with the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, pitting two planet-critical food producers against each other and disrupting international distribution channels.
Malawi President Lazarus Chakwera, who is chairing the summit, denounced the broken promises of the international community. Aid is not a favor or an act of charity but a moral responsibility, he believed.
East Timor President Jose Ramos-Horta for his part castigated the extreme interest rate insensitivity of raptors. LDC debt has more than quadrupled in a decade to reach $50 billion in 2021.
Sudan sees the debt hurdle as an emergency that needs to be managed in the international context, said in this regard General Abdel Fattah al-Burhane, de facto leader of the country since his October 2021 putsch.
The gap between the richest and the poorest has only widened. According to the World Bank, the average salary in Afghanistan does not exceed a few hundred dollars per year compared to $65,000 in the United States. Barely half of the poorest have electricity and one in five people in these countries have access to the internet, according to the UN.
Since 1971 , the number of LDCs – originally 24 – has almost doubled. Thanks to this designation, they enjoy commercial privileges and supposedly easier access to aid and other funding.
Bhutan is expected to graduate from the group of poor countries this year. Photo note shows the Paro Valley. (File photo)
Tiny Bhutan is expected to emerge from this category this year. Bangladesh, Laos, Nepal, Angola, Sao Tome and Principe and the Solomon Islands could follow by 2026.