Ninth African Fiscal Forum Joint Statement by The European Commissioner for International Partnerships and The Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund

March 2, 2021

Washington, DC: Ms. Jutta Urpilainen, European Commissioner for International Partnerships, and Ms. Kristalina Georgieva, Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund, today convened the Ninth African Fiscal Forum titled ‘Time for Brave Policies. Delegates at the Forum, which is taking place virtually on March 2–3, 2021, include African ministers of finance, policymakers and representatives from bilateral partners, multilateral institutions, and civil society.

Ms. Urpilainen and Ms. Georgieva issued the following statement at the start of the Forum:

“Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) continues to grapple with an unprecedented health, social and economic crisis. The pandemic has jeopardized years of hard-won development gains and upended the lives and livelihoods of millions. Our common goal is to continue to work closely with countries to support ongoing efforts in the fight against this pandemic, including by securing fair and equitable access to safe COVID-19 vaccines for all. Inadequate and delayed supply of vaccines in SSA will undermine not only regional but global efforts to end the pandemic, with significant negative health, growth and trade spillovers to the rest of the world.

“The fiscal policy response has been swift, with many SSA countries—especially those entering the crisis with good fundamentals—adopting comprehensive measures to contain the pandemic and alleviate its impact on the most vulnerable. These efforts have been supported by rapid emergency financing, debt relief and budget support deployed by the EC. The IMF and other institutions have also provided policy advice and capacity development. However, financing constraints, debt vulnerabilities and limited fiscal space have, prevented—and continue to prevent—many countries from implementing a more robust response. Since the start of the pandemic, IMF financial assistance to SSA countries totaled over $17.5 billion. Team Europe has contributed €6.2 billion to the external response to COVID-19. More than €1 billion was provided through European Union budget support to create fiscal space for COVID-19 response efforts.

“Despite these concerted efforts, 2021 is likely to be another very challenging year for the region. Even if vaccines become widely available, daunting development challenges remain. If unaddressed, extreme poverty and inequality will inevitably continue to rise, and education achievements will be held back, with critical implications for social stability and security, especially in more fragile environments.

“While the international community faces a moral and economic imperative to help all countries—especially those less privileged—fight the pandemic and build forward better, African policymakers will play a central role, as the crisis offers the opportunity to shape the recovery by embracing ‘ BRAVE’ fiscal policies:

  • Bold in their objectives to build forward a greener, smarter (more digitally connected), and fairer (with opportunities for all) world;
  • Revenue-based to increase domestic resources instrumental to expand much needed fiscal space for development spending;
  • Anchored in medium-term frameworks to address debt vulnerabilities and resolve them in a sustainable way, while making room for the recovery;
  • Vaccine-compatible so every country can get adequate and timely access to vaccines; and,
  • Equitable, working first and foremost, for the people, and with the people, by investing in human capital and strengthening social protection systems. Investing in people makes economic and social sense, as human capital will determine the capacity of the region to create enough jobs, reduce informality, climb the income ladder, and put poverty back on a squarely downward trend.

“For our part, we pledge to continue our partnership with sub-Saharan Africa to promote catalytic funding and the implementation of its reform agenda.”


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