G20 must act to protect poor from economic crisis

Campaigns and Advocacy, Media Releases article written on the 14 Nov 2008

G20 must act to protect poor from economic crisis
Prime Minister Kevin Rudd must use his position as a regional leader to make sure this week’s G20 meeting doesn’t leave the world’s poor paying the highest price for the current financial crisis, according to international aid agency Oxfam.
Oxfam Australia Policy Director James Ensor said Australians live in a region of developing countries, and our economy is closely linked to the fortunes of those in the region.
”All the evidence suggests this crisis would hit hardest in developing countries, including those in the Asia-Pacific region,” Mr Ensor said.
“The Australian Government must show leadership at the G20 meeting to ensure our poorer neighbours aren’t left behind by the response,” he said.
Developed countries, including Australia, must
• Not just maintain current aid commitments, but increase them by the $210 billion necessary to meet the UN target of 0.7 per cent of gross national income.
• Rewrite global financial rules to make the market work for all and not just the few – closing tax havens, and moving away from relying on the dollar as the sole reserve currency.
• Overhaul global bodies, including the IMF and World Bank, to reflect the realities of a 21st century world and include more representation from developing countries.
“In previous financial crises, aid budgets have been cut – just at the time when developing countries need aid the most,” Mr Ensor said.
Oxfam welcomes the Australian Government’s recent commitment not to decrease aid spending because of the financial crisis, and to eventually increase its aid budget to 0.5 per cent of gross national income.
“Prime Minister Rudd can use this commitment to pressure other G20 leaders not to backslide on aid commitments," Mr Ensor said.
Oxfam believes the weakening global demand for exports will damage the economies of Australia’s neighbours by reducing demand for Asian manufactured goods and commodities from Pacific Island countries.
“Mr Rudd has already shown he’s committed to an international solution to this problem.”
“Now he must demonstrate that he’s also interested in leading a response that doesn’t leave out those who are going to feel the extreme effects of this crisis,” Mr Ensor said.
The World Bank has estimated the current crisis will increase the total number of malnourished people by up to 44 million this year, taking it to almost one billion people across the word.
Oxfam International will be lobbying all the world leaders at the G20 meeting to remember that the world’s poor should not be paying the price for the collapse of global financial markets.
For more information or to interview
James Ensor, please contact: Kate Thwaites on 0407 515 559

Link: Oxfam International’s briefing paper