Aerial photo taken on Feb 19, 2021 shows a cargo ship pulling out at the Qianwan Container Terminal in Qingdao, East China's Shandong province. (Photo/Xinhua)
The international community must come together to empower the current global governance system and increase investment in healthcare systems in a fairer and more equitable manner, to revitalize the pandemic-hit global economy as soon as possible, according to business and financial leaders.
Jin Liqun, president of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, has called on the international community to build global governance into a system with "power, authority and teeth", particularly during this unusual time.
While addressing the International Finance Forum 2021 Spring Meetings on Saturday, he said that as low-income, developing countries tended to be much more vulnerable amid the COVID-19 pandemic, development banks and other development partners need to work faster to help their governments build up strength in their healthcare systems.
"We all know that nobody is safe until everybody is safe," he added.
Also addressing the forum but via video, Kristalina Georgieva, managing director of the International Monetary Fund, called for faster and fairer vaccine rollouts to safeguard recovery from the shock of the virus.
At least 40 percent of the global population needs to be vaccinated by the end of this year, and at least 60 percent by mid-2022, according to an IMF estimate, she said, and such a plan would cost around $50 billion globally.
COVID-19 is a warning that investing in public health is essential to promoting global financial stability and realizing strong economic growth, argued Jim Yong Kim, former president of the World Bank Group, who also addressed the forum via video.
Kim, who has focused on health, education and delivering services to the poor for most of his career, noted that improvements in public health are strongly related to strong economic growth. Such investment not only saves lives, but also saves money and drives economic growth, he said.
He urged global financial institutions to work more proactively with the World Health Organization as well as the United Nations' agencies, non-government organizations and the private sector, to ensure health support becomes more inclusive and to create more access to expertise and resources, including vaccines, to cope with the pandemic.
Through such cooperation, the financial sector is playing an increasingly critical role, particularly as the world needs to grow in a greener, more sustainable manner in the post-COVID-19 era, said Zhou Xiaochuan, former governor of the People's Bank of China. He urged strengthening the global and regional financial safety net to stabilize the macroeconomy and promoting global trade to support supply chains.
Some developing countries are facing increased debt risks as a result of the pandemic. China has fully implemented the initiative proposed by G20 members to suspend debt in the poorest countries, or the G20 Debt Service Suspension Initiative, offering more than $1.3 billion in debt relief－the largest amount of all the G20 countries－said Zhou, who delivered a speech at the forum.
Jin, the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank president, said the bank has created a new department focusing on supporting and investing in healthcare systems to compensate for the COVID-19 challenge.
"It (the pandemic) has told us that no nations can stay safe and sound without sufficient investment in their healthcare system," he said, adding that the best way to tackle the pandemic's impact is "to stimulate growth, to invest in human capital and infrastructure for tomorrow".