‘An unprecedented fiscal response’ – political and business leaders on managing the coronavirus crisis

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(Credit: Unsplash)

This article is brought to you thanks to the collaboration of The European Sting with the World Economic Forum.

Author: Christopher Alessi, Digital Editor, World Economic Forum

“If we’re able to reopen the economy over the summer, you’re going to see a big rebound in the third and fourth quarter in the US.”

That was the assessment of US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on the potential recovery of the US economy later this year during a digital meeting of the Forum’s COVID Action Platform on 22 April.

Launched last month, the Forum’s platform aims to convene the business community for collective action to protect people’s livelihoods, facilitate business continuity and mobilize support for a global response to the COVID-19 pandemic. To date, more than 1,300 companies, organizations and individuals have joined the platform.

In addition to Mnuchin, participants on this week’s webinar included Ivan Duque, President of Colombia; Kevin Sneader, Global Managing Partner, McKinsey & Company, Hong Kong SAR, China; Rob Shuter, Group President and Chief Executive Officer, MTN Group, South Africa and Shobana Kamineni, Executive Vice-Chairperson, Apollo Hospitals Enterprise, India.

Here are some key quotes from the session:

On the economic situation:

Through its recent coronavirus stimulus packages the US government has delivered “an unprecedented fiscal response for small and medium sized businesses,” Mnuchin said.

“It’s now the moment to have stronger multilateral action. We’re all fighting for the same ventilators, the same reactants, the same machines, and we need to have a bigger acquisition in Latin American in order to protect lives,” Duque argued. He also added: “We need more liquidity from multilateral institutions,” to help small businesses stay afloat and fuel Colombia’s economic recovery.

“We are looking at a Roosevelt like plan – infrastructure, jobs, generous monetary package for companies – especially SMEs – to restart and survive,” Kamineni said of India’s planned fiscal response to the crisis.

On business continuity:

Commenting on the complex task that businesses face in the current climate, Sneader said: “We need the microscope to look at the detail of the here and now and the telescope to look far ahead. If you put a microscope in one eye and a telescope in the other you just get a headache.”

“Have a group of colleagues who are very focussed on bringing back business, and have another group that can look ahead and reimagine what the business is going to be, so that what you’re bringing back isn’t a business designed for the old past but is one that is designed for the next normal,” he added.


On health:

“One thing that India has done well is that we have enough pharmaceuticals. In fact we’re sharing it with the world,” Kamineni said.

She also noted that “countries are coming together to share treatment modalities – and I think that a vaccine will emerge because of so much collaborative effort”.

On technology:

“We fully support leveraging the technology to deal with the pandemic. But of course it needs to be customized to the realities of Africa,” Shuter said on using mobile phones for contact tracing to help contain the virus across the continent.

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