Business & Economy

IDB Invest warns of ‘devastating, disproportionate’ impact of Covid-19

Barranquilla, Colombia, Mar 18 (efe-epa).- The economic impact of the “perfect storm” that has shaken Latin America in the last 12 months will not be seen for at least a year, but indications are that it will be “devastating and disproportionate,” the CEO of the private sector arm of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) said Thursday.

James Scriven, who is in Barranquilla for the IDB’s annual meeting that officially began on Wednesday, assured Efe that IDB Invest “is part of the solution, which will have to be green and inclusive.”

“We have a very big opportunity to rebalance our economies. Any bibliography shows that the inclusion of women has an exponential impact on our economies. And we must also do much more inclusive work of minorities that have not benefited in the past,” he said.

Twenty percent of the Latin American population is Afro-descendant, Scriven said and “working together with these communities and providing more access to financing is part of our green and inclusive initiative.”

“The pandemic has been a like a whirlwind that passed through the region and that has added to the worst hurricane season in the Caribbean and Central America as well as the migratory crisis that continues to exist in the region,” Scriven said, describing it as “a perfect storm.”

“The indicators highlight the devastating and disproportionate effect that the pandemic is having in our region,” added the CEO of IDB Invest.

Although the IDB on Saturday will release its traditional macroeconomic report that will provide detailed indicators of the situation, Scriven told Efe that the reality facing the region is something that has never occurred before.

“I don’t think I have seen a crisis of this magnitude in the more than 60 years of the IDB Group. There are no examples. There have been specific crises in some countries but never in the 26 countries that make up the IDB Group,” he said.

“One hundred and eighteen million women and girls are going to enter poverty as a result of the pandemic. The poverty indicators are extremely alarming,” added Scriven, who said that since Oct. 1, 2020 when Mauricio Claver-Carone took office as president of the IDB, the organization has been analyzing in detail the impact of the pandemic.

In Barranquilla, Claver-Carone is presenting the IDB’s strategic plan, called “Vision 2025,” which revolves around the axis of sustainable and inclusive growth and that indicates how the region will emerge from this crisis, as well as the role of the IDB.

“In that context, on the role of IDB Invest there are several phrases that are used in Vision 2025 but there is one that I would like to highlight: this is going to be a recovery led by the private sector,” said Scriven.

“The fiscal situation and social issues are going to be the great priority of the countries and that is why some will not have the space or the focus to concentrate (their resources) on economic recovery. Many of the countries, and rightly so, are focused on containing the health problem and vaccinating the populations,” he continued.

“But there are also medium and long-term investments that need to be made and that several of the countries will not have the space to do so. And for that reason, a request from president Claver-Carone that the IDB, as a group, has a more important role to play,” he concluded.

Scriven stressed that while countries are beginning to turn the page on the health crisis, with the arrival of vaccines to combat the pandemic, “we have not seen the impact of the economic crisis yet. In my estimation, the profound economic impact we will see in the next year or 18 months.” EFE-EPA


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