President Participates in High Level Event on Financing of Sustainable Development to Confront Coronavirus Outbreak

2020/05/28

 
 
President Salih participated today in a High- Level Event on financing for development to confront the ramification of COVID-19. The PM of Canada, Mr. Justin Trudeau, the UNSG Antonio Guterres, and the PM of Jamaica Mr. Andrew Holness have invited the President.
During the high level Event which was held by participating of French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Italian Prime Minister, Giuseppe Conte and World Bank Chief, David Malpass alongside with other Heads of State and Government, His Excellency President Salih emphasized that, " The challenges that we, as a global community, face are immense and urgent, but these challenges are not insurmountable, if we show common purpose and stand together." He added that," The temptation may be to look inward, and to leave each country to fend for itself.  But while the impact of the virus is felt locally, the crisis is a global one, and it requires a global response."

"We have no illusion that the road ahead will be long and arduous.  But we have no option but to persevere and prevail. We need to act with a sense of urgency, compassion and resolution to deliver results. Otherwise, we will be letting down our population, especially our youth." The President said.
He stated that," We are still a country in recovery.  We have overcome civil war, violence, and the terrorism of so-called Islamic State, but our rebuilding process is fragile.  The popular demonstrations of last autumn and winter, and the tragic deaths that accompanied them, were a stark reminder that the patience of the Iraqi people has its limits."

 " Delivering a more prosperous future and tackling the weaknesses of Iraq’s economy are promises that the new government of Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi has made in its program." The President asserted.

His Excellency President Salih confirmed that, " We need bridging mechanisms that will allow us to implement counter-cyclical fiscal stimulus policies now in order to stabilize our finances and our economy as we face up to impact of COVID-19.    

The President's speech is as the follows:

Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,

I am deeply grateful to the Prime Ministers of Canada and Jamaica, and to the Secretary General of the United Nations, for organizing this important meeting.

The challenges that we, as a global community, face are immense and urgent, all the more so in the Middle East and the developing world, where the impact of virus could be more protracted and damaging as it strains already stretched health infrastructure.  

But these challenges are not insurmountable, if we show common purpose and stand together.  The temptation may be to look inward, and to leave each country to fend for itself.  But while the impact of the virus is felt locally, the crisis is a global one, and it requires a global response.   We need to be united in our commitment to combat the spread of COVID-19, to find a vaccine, and to restoring our economic well-being.  The issues identified in this forum are core to achieving these goals.
  But we have nevertheless felt the full force of the pandemic’s economic consequences.  Social distancing has brought many sectors of our economy to a virtual standstill, and, according to the World Bank, the number of Iraqis under the poverty line have risen from below 20% at the end of 2019 to approximately 40% now.  

Iraq has been battered by a plurality of shocks: the collapse of domestic demand due to restrictions imposed to combat COVID-19; the sharp fall in oil prices since March; and, most recently, the precipitous fall in Iraqi oil production, which was cut by approximately 23% as part of the April OPEC+ agreement.  

Our dependence on oil receipts means that our budget revenues are down over 70% compared to pre-crisis levels, forcing us to take emergency measures to meet non-discretionary spending.  Eventually, our spending may need to be rationalized, but even then we face the prospect of a significant budget deficit this year that will need be financed by drawing down reserves and increasing debt.  Overall, our economy is forecast to contract by almost 10% in 2020, with a possible rebound expected in 2021.  

All of this comes at a sensitive time for Iraq.  We are still a country in recovery.  We have overcome civil war, violence, and the terrorism of so-called Islamic State, but our rebuilding process is fragile.  The popular demonstrations of last autumn and winter, and the tragic deaths that accompanied them, were a stark reminder that the patience of the Iraqi people has its limits.  

People are willing to lay down their lives for a better, more prosperous future; it is our responsibility, as leaders, to meet those expectations. This is no easy task. Every year approximately 350,000 reach working age, but many struggle to find jobs. The government tries to employ some of them, but in doing so it creates longer-term fiscal problems for the country. 

Delivering a more prosperous future and tackling the weaknesses of Iraq’s economy are promises that the new government of Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi has made in its program.

We have no illusion that the road ahead will be long and arduous.  But we have no option but to persevere and prevail. We need to act with a sense of urgency, compassion and resolution to deliver results.  Otherwise, we will be letting down our population, especially our youth.

We cannot hope to succeed without the cooperation of the international community. The fiscal and liquidity crises that we face make meeting our basic financing and debt obligations difficult.  We hope that the international community will support these efforts, including assisting us with economic restructuring and helping us to realize our investment budget, which is crucial for building infrastructure, maintaining essential services, and creating jobs.  
For developing countries like Iraq that face these challenges, access to vehicles that will help us to ensure domestic liquidity, private-sector access to credit, and which reduce the immediate debt burden on the government are critical if we are to ensure that the current crisis does not cripple us and undermine our ability to push through much-needed reform in the longer-term.  

We need bridging mechanisms that will allow us to implement counter-cyclical fiscal stimulus policies now in order to stabilize our finances and our economy as we face up to impact of COVID-19.  We can then use this as a platform to make smarter spending choices in the future that will stimulate economic growth. 

 The success of Iraq is crucial to combating extremism and helping restore stability to this part of the world. Much effort has gone into stabilizing Iraq and overcoming the difficulties of the past.

With COVID-19, the crisis in Iraq has deepened, the challenges have become far more painful. I am sure many other countries are feeling the same scale of challenges and difficulties. But we have no other choice, but to work together globally to build a better.

Hopefully together, we contain this crisis into an opportunity to building a better future and building economic collaborative arrangement across the globe.

Thank you

Barham Salih,
President of the Republic.


Presedent

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