Cyril Ramaphosa

South Africa supports the call of the African Union (AU) for a two-year debt standstill for countries unable to service their debts, President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Thursday.

“We support the allocation of more IMF Special Drawing Rights to help central banks, the corporate sector and small and medium-sized businesses to withstand the shocks caused by the pandemic,” Ramaphosa said at a virtual United Nations High-Level Event on Financing for Development in the Era of COVID-19 and Beyond.

South Africa also endorses the call of UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres for the development of a comprehensive debt framework, Ramaphosa said.

“This should start with an across-the-board debt standstill for countries unable to service their debts, followed by targeted debt relief and a comprehensive approach to structural issues in the international debt architecture to prevent defaults,” he said.

The COVID-19 pandemic presents a very real threat to African collective ability to meet the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), said Ramaphosa.

“In this time of crisis, we need to be innovative in the deployment of resources to both fight COVID-19 and support sustainable development,” the president said.

In this regard, developing country debt “is a foremost concern,” he said.

Amid a global effort to overcome the COVID-19 crisis, the international community must ensure that the progress that has been made towards the realization of the SDGs is not reversed, Ramaphosa said.

He called on developed countries to meet their commitments to supporting developing countries in the key areas of the Addis Ababa Action Agenda, a global framework that seeks to align financing flows and policies with economic, social and environmental priorities.

Ramaphosa welcomed the UN Secretary-General’s call for a global response package amounting to at least 10 percent of the world’s gross domestic product, which means more than 200 billion U.S. dollars of additional support for Africa.

Ramaphosa also stressed the need to address the threat posed to the economic stability of developing countries by illicit financial flows, money laundering and corruption.

“We share a collective responsibility to not just uplift our respective countries and societies, but also those less resourced and less fortunate,” he said, noting that no one should be left behind

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