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Category Archives: Socio-economic Collapse

Zimbabwe: Churches mediate between government and opposition – Vatican News

Posted: July 21, 2020 at 12:20 pm

The Zimbabwe Heads of Christian Denominations (ZHOCD) meet with political leaders to discuss pressing issues affecting the country.

By Fr. Benedict Mayaki, SJ

The heads of Christian denominations in Zimbabwe have gathered religious and political leaders in a meeting, in the wake of the countrys pronounced socio-economic problems, now exacerbated by the Covid-19 crisis.

In a press statement, the Zimbabwe Heads of Christian Denominations (ZHOCD) said the meeting is part of a series of consultations lined up by the churches to find consensus on the current but also the long-standing challenges facing the nation.

The meeting, which took place last week in Harare, saw representatives from seventeen political parties in attendance. However, representatives from the countrys ruling party, ZANU PF (Zimbabwe African National Union Patriotic Front) were noticeably absent from the meeting.

The ZHOCD reports that participants at the meeting discussed a series of issues affecting the nation.

The participants raised concerns about the current state of the health sector characterized by the protracted strike by medical personnel, especially as the nation battles with increasing Covid-19 cases. They also noted that the resources mobilized for the pandemic were not being satisfactorily put to use.

Another point of unease was the failure to implement the constitution. The Christian leaders and political representatives agreed this has led to an increase in fear among citizens confronted by violence and unresolved cases of abductions and systematic torture at the hands of persons alleged to be state functionaries.

The participants also highlighted the negative effects of the current economic collapse in the country. They pointed out that even the informal economy, which had become the source of livelihood for many citizens, has been destroyed not only by the pandemic, but also because of poor economic policies. In addition, the increase in the level of poverty has further marginalized citizens, especially women and children.

At the same time, the political representatives noted that at the heart of many of the countrys issues is the failure to bring closure to the many hurts and human rights violations of the immediate and long-past, including, but not isolated to,Gukurahundi.They pointed out that due to this wounded past, some communities feel marginalized from national development priorities.

TheGukurahundirefers to a series of killings of mainly Ndebeles in Matabeleland from 1983 to 1987 by military forces. It is estimated that approximately 20,000 civilians were killed. This Shona word Gukurahandi loosely translates as the early rain which washes away the chaff before the spring rains.

In light of these concerns, the participants pointed out that the intertwined and overarching nature of these issues require an urgent, inclusive, broad-based national dialogue process involving political parties, churches, the security and business sectors, among others.

The participants, therefore. requested the collaboration of all stakeholders as these issues can neither be addressed in isolation nor by a few actors.

According to the World Bank, poverty in Zimbabwe rose from 29 percent in 2018 to 34 percent in 2019, with a population increase from 4.7 to 5.7 million people.

Severe droughts in the country, which used to be the breadbasket of southern Africa, have now made it one of the most food-insecure countries in the world.Electricity and water supplies have also been reduced, with widespread rationing.

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President Ilham Aliyev: Armenian leadership needs some kind of crisis to divert thoughts from fundamental issues, and it deliberately resorted to this…

Posted: at 12:20 pm

BAKU, Azerbaijan, July 18

Trend:

The Armenian leadership today needs some kind of a crisis to divert thoughts from these fundamental issues, and it deliberately resorted to this provocation, said President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev during the meeting of the Cabinet of Ministers dedicated to the results of socio-economic development in the first quarter of 2020 and future objectives, Trend reports.

As for the reasons for the Armenian military provocation, of course, we cannot know them for sure, life will tell. But there are many logical assumptions, and I would like to share my thoughts on this with the citizens of Azerbaijan. I believe that the first reason is the current political and economic crisis in Armenia. This is no secret to anyone. Two years ago, a group funded from abroad, receiving salaries and instructions from foreign funds and using their coup technologies, seized power by illegal means and made many promises. They promised that there would be prosperity and paradise in Armenia. They stated that investments of tens of billions of dollars would be made in Armenia in a short time, the population of Armenia would soon reach 5 million although it is less than 2 million people now, life in Armenia would be rebuilt, there would be justice, democracy would develop, human rights would be protected they made other promises, said President Ilham Aliyev.

He noted that the Armenian people are so disgusted with Sargsyan's regime that they would have believed anyone.

If someone else had organized that coup, the Armenian people would have voted for him as well because the hatred for Sargsyan's regime was enormous. The group that took advantage of this and seized power by force had to fulfill these promises to the end. But how can they do it if there is no experience, competence, domestic resources or foreign investment? On the contrary, today they treat foreign investors with contempt and drag them into litigation. Strategic investors who are helping Armenia stand on its feet are being prosecuted and accused of corruption. They are committing dirty deeds even against companies of the country they are attached to, so to speak. Of course, all of this will scare any potential investor away. If this is how you treat the closest companies that invest in your country, create infrastructure there and provide your people with jobs, then what should investors from other countries think? said President Ilham Aliyev.

The head of state pointed out that therefore, it is natural that the collapse of these promises has already led to the emergence of a crisis in Armenia.

How did the authorities react to this? Instead of uniting society, it actually creates political prisoners, political opponents are detained, prosecuted and deprived of immunity, the constitution is flagrantly violated, illegal amendments that are possible only through a referendum are made to it. They know perfectly well that these amendments will not pass in a referendum. Power has been usurped and there is no division of powers. Power is concentrated in the hands of one person, there is no democracy at all and never has been. What kind of democracy, human rights can we talk about in a fascist state? But the current situation is even more deplorable, because the promises made for the economic sphere were never fulfilled, while from a political point of view Armenia has driven itself into isolation. This was once again confirmed by their silly actions related to the convocation of a special session of the UN General Assembly on the initiative of Azerbaijan. The whole world supported us, only Armenia opposed, said President Ilham Aliyev.

The head of state noted that democratic principles are completely violated in Armenia, recommendations of the Venice Commission are rejected, political opponents are prosecuted and there is a dictatorship.

Therefore, the Armenian leadership today needs some kind of a crisis to divert thoughts from these fundamental issues, and it deliberately resorted to this provocation. Why 12 July? This is also no coincidence. This is being linked to certain events in Armenia now. I do not want to touch on this issue, because I have never touched on family matters and do not advise anyone to do this. But I believe that the main reason for this was the special session of the UN General Assembly, which was officially declared open on 10 July. Because this is yet another huge success, another great victory for our country, as we received the support of 130 countries. Azerbaijan is a country that has drawn attention to the COVID-19 problem that occupies the entire agenda, has held two major summits and after that a special session of the UN General Assembly. This is the reason, said President Ilham Aliyev.

The head of state pointed out that there may be many reasons.

I just want to share my thoughts. The fact is that it is no coincidence that Armenia committed this military provocation at this particular time. But they have received a fitting response. I want to say again that the Azerbaijani army is in full control of the situation. I should also note that although our villages were shelled and an elderly person was killed, none of the inhabitants of our villages budged, not a single person left anywhere. At the same time, according to the operational data we have, people from some villages and cities of Armenia are being evacuated. There is panic there now. This is the difference. The citizens of Azerbaijan live on their land with dignity. The Azerbaijani state and the Azerbaijani army protect and will continue to protect them, said President Ilham Aliyev.

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After coronavirus: Global youth reveal that the social value of art has never mattered more – MENAFN.COM

Posted: at 12:19 pm

(MENAFN - The Conversation) Health and government officials around the globe are slowly and ever-so-tentatively moving to relax lockdowns due to coronavirus.

In Canada, where the possibility of health-care collapse seems to have been averted (for the time being), some are beginning to ask questions other than ''when will the pandemic end?'' Instead, they''re turning towards ''how will we move forward?''

Young people have some answers that warrant our attention. Over the past five years, through my collaborative ethnographic research with 250 young people in drama classrooms in Canada, India, Taiwan, Greece and England, I have gained remarkable insight into these young people''s experiences and assessments of the world .

I found crisis after crisis being shouldered by young people. Through their theatre-making, they documented their concerns and hope, and they rallied around common purposes. They did this despite disagreement and difference.

Beyond simply creating art for art''s sake, or for school credits, many of the young people I encountered are building social movements and creative projects around a different vision for our planet. And they are calling us in. This is an unprecedented moment for intergenerational justice and we need to seize it.

I have had an up-close look at how seemingly disparate crises around the globe are deeply connected through divisive systems that don''t acknowledge or respect youth concerns. I have also learned how young people are disproportionately affected by the misguided politics of a fractured world.

In England, young people were burdened by the divisive rhetoric of the Brexit campaign and its ensuing aftermath.

In India, young women were using their education to build solidarity in the face of dehumanizing gender oppression.

In Greece, young people were shouldering the weight of a decade-long economic crisis compounded by a horrifying refugee crisis.

Read more: Solidarity with refugees can''t survive on compassion in crisis-stricken societies of Greece and Italy

In Taiwan, young people on the cusp of adulthood were trying to square the social pressures of traditional culture with their own ambitions in a far-from-hopeful economic landscape.

In Toronto, youth tried to understand why the rhetoric of multiculturalism seemed both true and false, and why racism persists and, in so doing, they spoke from perspectives grounded in their intersectional (white, racialized, sexual- and gender-diverse) identities.

They embraced the reality that everything in popular culture may enter a drama classroom. But they responded to current news stories like the 2016 presidential debates in the United States by saying that they had different and more pressing concerns, like mental health support and transphobia.

Today''s young people are a generation that has come of age during a host of global crises. Inequality, environmental destruction, systemic oppression of many kinds weigh heavily.

I found a youth cohort who, despite many not yet having the right to vote, have well-honed political capacities , are birthing countless global hashtag movements and inspiring generations of young and old .

These marginalized youth are aware that their communities have been living with and responding to catastrophic impacts of crises of injustice and inequalities long before now.

How do these youth live with their awareness of global injustices and what these imply for the years ahead? We learned some disturbing things: as young people age and move further away from their primary relationships (parents, teachers, schoolmates), they feel less optimistic about their personal futures.

But in terms of hope, we learned something very recognizable to many of us now: many young people practise hope, even when they feel hopeless . They do this both in social movements they participate in and in creative work they undertake with others .

This is something we can all learn from. In Canada, we are maintaining social distancing as a shared effort. Acting together by keeping apart is how we are flattening the curve, as all the experts continue to tell us .

We know that in communities around the world, government leadership matters enormously . But citizens, social trust and collective will matter at least as much.

In this pandemic, institutions, like universities , businesses and individual citizens have stepped up remarkably in the interests of the common good and our shared fate.

However, Jennifer Welsh, Canada Research Chair in Global Governance and Security at McGill University, argues that the defining feature of the last decade is polarization , existing across many different liberal democracies and globally.

Along with this, the value of fairness has been deeply corroded because of growing inequality and persistent historic inequalities we have failed to address, like Indigenous sovereignty and land rights in Canada .

Read more: The road to reconciliation starts with the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

In the context of the rise of populist politicians and xenophobic policies globally, and also the rise of the most important progressive social movements in decades, my research has taught me that in this driven-apart, socio-economic landscape, the social value of art has never been more important.

People are making sense of the inexplicable or the feared through art, using online platforms for public learning . Art has become a point of contact, an urgent communication and a hope.

But some are still without shelter, without food, without community and without proper health care . The differences are stark.

Arundhati Roy has imagined this pandemic as a kind of portal we are walking through: we can ''walk through it lightly ready to imagine another world .'' We can choose to be ''ready to fight for it.''

Read more: What is solidarity? During coronavirus and always, it''s more than ''we''re all in this together''

It''s time to put global youth at the centre of our responses to crises. Otherwise, young people will inherit a planet devastated by our uncoordinated efforts to act, worsening a crisis of intergenerational equity .

We should of course develop a vaccine and, in Canada, stop underfunding our public health-care system . But we must also flatten the steep curves we have tolerated for too long . For a start, we could act on wealth disparity and social inequality .

But our response to the pandemic could also illuminate new responses to fundamental problems: disrespect for the diversity of life in all its forms and lack of consideration for future generations.

Youth expression through theatre and in social movements are valuable ways to learn how youth are experiencing, processing and communicating their understandings of the profound challenges our world faces. How powerfully our post-pandemic planning could shift if we changed who is at decision-making tables and listened to youth.

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Global Food Security Does the Solution for Local Food Production Lie with Israel? – Georgia Today

Posted: at 12:19 pm

The COVID-19 pandemic and the ensuing global economic crisis revealed a very troubling fact: the world is unprepared for food security. The complex global systems that were created in the era of accelerated globalization are threatening to collapse: Leading food producers have placed limitations on the export of agricultural goods from their territory, disturbances and interruptions have been encountered along the entire global supply chains from production in the field, to the international marketing of food, the decline in demand and buying-power due to the global economic recession, shortage of farm-hands and the contraction of disease amongst workers in the food-packing factories.

But what is important to emphasize is that we still have not truly distanced ourselves from the danger of hunger and the interruption in the global food supply mechanisms. At the same time, the phenomena of rising food prices, the lack of foreign currency for purchasing food on the global market, market disturbances etc., continue vigorously. Tens of millions of people in the Middle East, Africa, Asia and other areas of the world have joined the 820 million people that, prior to the pandemic, were already defined as under-nourished and in danger of hunger or starvation. The World Bank estimates that approximately 40 million people have entered the category of immediate risk in western Africa alone. UN reports, and first among them, that of the International Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), warn of a rising threat of hunger, and the UN called upon the international community to maintain open commerce and to refrain from national protectionist policies.

The situation in Georgia is also of considerable concern. According to the UNEP (United Nations Environment Program), land resources are limited in Georgia: only 15% of the country is cultivated, while 70% is forests, bush, meadows and pastures. Agricultural cultivation methods are still largely traditional or unsustainable, which, when combined with climatic and terrestrial conditions, results in the unfortunate fact that more than a third of agricultural land is affected by degradation, erosion, pollution and soil damage. Moreover, around 4% of farmland is vulnerable to desertification. Naturally, that affects food security: Georgia is 70% self-sufficient in vegetables, but only 8% self-sufficient in wheat, according to official statistics.

Just this week, the UN published its annual report on The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2020. According to it, projections show that the world is not on track to achieve Zero Hunger by 2030 and, despite some progress, most indicators are also not on track to meet global nutrition targets. The food security and nutritional status of the most vulnerable population groups is likely to deteriorate further due to the health and socio-economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

This situation raises the question of what we can do to prevent a global food crisis which may result in hunger, political and security instability and rampant migration. Without doubt, international trade systems for food and agricultural necessities such as fertilizers, machinery, fuel, etc. must be kept open and functioning. At the same time, states would do well if they increased their local food production capacity. This food, in addition to supplying caloric needs, must be healthy, nutritious and available to everyone and at an affordable price. For this, local farming requires significant incentives and support in order to increase its production and variety.

The State of Israel, having proved itself over a period of decades an expert in successful innovative farming in some of the most challenging desert and drought prone areas of the world, can be a supplier of quick, efficient and low-cost solutions for these needs. Drip-irrigation is one of the best examples of this. It is amazing that, to date, most of the agricultural crops the world over are still grown by dry farming, i.e. farming that is reliant on rain for field irrigation. Moving to irrigated farming would increase the crop yield, would save water and greenhouse gases, and would, over time, create food security. Vegetables, for instance, could be grown a number of times during the year via drip-irrigation as opposed to only once a year when relying on natural precipitation during the rainy season.

Precise agriculture, which supplies all plant needs on an almost individual basis, is another example. Today, sensors are capable of informing precisely how much water and fertilizer is required for each tree and from what diseases it is suffering, and accordingly, an individualized treatment which is often administered via drones or other methods. The use of satellites for information gathering and remote sensing, computerized greenhouses and continuous monitoring of temperature, humidity, pests/insects, etc. from afar also increase agricultural crop yields and creates more food.

Everyone knows that without water, nothing can be grown, and in arid Israel, unlimited solutions have been found and implemented, such as the use of purified sewage water for farming, or even the use of saline water, leak prevention and/or the identification of their source in water supply systems, and hydroponics (a form of farming that allows for growing vegetables in water). Water conservation, irrigation monitoring and many other solutions developed in Israel can be implemented relatively easily and at low cost throughout the world.

Among other things, the COVID-19 crisis has also exposed the exaggerated reliance on animal-based food. The closure of slaughter houses and meat packaging facilities, due to the contraction of the disease by their employees, gave a very strong push to the market of plant based substitutes for protein. This industry is seeing an accelerated growth and many technologies such as cultivated meats will begin to see mass use in the coming years. This process will also be accelerated since we know that cultivation of livestock creates heavy damage to the planet and is unsustainable and must therefore be reduced. As a result, the importance of protein sources whose origin is found in plants or cultivated meats, will grow considerably. In Israel, there is extensive research in this area and Israeli startups are on the frontline of the global development of such foods.

The need to strengthen local agricultural produce grows even stronger against the backdrop of the ever-worsening phenomena of climate change, widespread global desertification and water crises, and the extinction of animal and plants species, and with it, huge damage to biodiversity. These and other issues are threatening our ability to supply food over the long term. As a result, there is great importance in preparing ourselves to be able to guarantee food security and for agricultural production by means that do not adversely affect the environment and the climate.

In conclusion, the COVID-19 crisis is still very far from being resolved and we will continue to experience its ramifications in almost every realm of our daily lives. Therefore, it is more important today than ever before to understand the fragility of the global food supply chains, the vulnerability of food security to different sources of disturbance, and to increase local food production wide-scale.

Israel would be both happy and honored to share its rich experience and knowledge in these areas with our Georgian partners. MASHAV (Israels International Development Cooperation Agency) has been operating in Georgia for almost 30 years and has so far trained more than 1,500 Georgian women and men in various professional spheres relating to agriculture, irrigation, entrepreneurship, womens empowerment, public health and numerous other disciplines. The COVID-19 pandemic presents us not only with challenges, but also with fresh opportunities for increasing food security in Georgia and the entire Caucasus. Israel and MASHAV are ready to continue partnership with Georgia (both the public and private sectors) and invest in a better, healthier and safer future for all.

By Ambassador of Israel, Ran Gidor

Isreli water technology innovators share best practices with high-level Indian stakeholders. Source: 2030wrg.org

16 July 2020 17:50

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Covid-19 in Brazil has exposed socio-economic inequalities and underfunding of its public health system – The BMJ – The BMJ

Posted: June 20, 2020 at 10:30 am

Brazil currently has the worlds second highest number of deaths from covid-19. The lack of action from the Brazilian President, Jair Bolsonaro, and his open denial of the pandemic is widely seen as being one of the reasons for this crisis. However, while that is undoubtedly one of the causes of the high rate of infection and deaths from covid-19, we argue that the countrys underlying conditionsits deeply rooted socio-economic inequalities, the fragmentation and chronic underfunding of its public health systemare equally important factors. In the midst of a rapidly evolving public health and economic crisis, there are early signs of some form of resilience in the system, and possible lessons to be learned for the countrys future.

Although the pandemic has not yet reached its peak in Brazil, the country is at risk of being shattered by the coronavirus. The bed occupancy rate in Intensive Care Unit (ICU) is over 90% in three Brazilian statesAmazonas, Cear, and Rio de Janeiro. How did Brazil reach this point? It is the combination of the health systems flaws and entrenched inequalities, as well as President Bolsonaros denialism and lack of action that have cost the lives of so many Brazilians.

Since Brazils first case of covid-19 at the end of February 2020, Bolsonaro has denied the gravity of the pandemic and acted against public health measures such asphysical distancing. He has used words such as hysteria, neurosis and fantasy to criticize the reaction of people and the media to what he classified as a little gripe. [1] Within one month, two of his ministers of health left their position, refusing to implement Bolsonaros plans to end quarantine, and prescribe hydroxychloroquine to all covid-19 patients regardless of their health condition. But despite his antics and blunders, it is too simplistic to only blame Bolsonaro for the rapid escalation of the epidemic.

It is really the underlying conditions of Brazils health system that have allowed the pandemic to take hold and get out of control. Brazils health system is highly fragmented. Although everyone uses the public unified health system (Sistema nico de Sade SUS), 25% of the population hold private health insurance, mostly through their employment. This has created an ethical, equity, and social justice problem within the pandemic, as those who can afford it, use private health services. The large majority of those who cannot pay for an insurance, use the SUS. Long before this pandemic, Brazils SUS struggled with chronic underfunding, aggravated by the austerity measures introduced in the aftermath of the 2014-2016 economic recession. [2] Despite the universal public system, 56% of Brazils health expenditures are private. [3] In the last few years, there has been an increase in out-of-pocket expenditures, especially for medicines.

In Brazil, the pandemic started in affluent urban areas more exposed to contagion from international travel. It is now quickly spreading to the suburbs and favelas (slums). Brazils deeply entrenched social inequalities and the vulnerability of specific populations, have provided a hotbed for the pandemic. In Brazil, the wealthiest 1% of the population concentrates 28.3% of the countrys total income. About 150 million Brazilians live on an average monthly salary of 420 Reais (around $70). Roughly 13 million Brazilians live in favelas, where hygiene and sanitation is poor. [4]. The virus has also spread among more than 600,000 prisoners in the country, and there is the likely risk of rapid dissemination among the population of Indigenous people, which is approximately 800,000 people.

With such underlying conditions, it is surprising the system did not collapse sooner. Thankfully, a few mitigating factors have been able to boost resilience in the face of Bolsonaros lack of action and denialism. There are currently 478,000 active doctors (2.3 per 1,000 population) and 2.3 million nursing professionals. Despite its numerous failings, Brazils SUS still guarantees free access to all levels of health services, from primary care to specialists. Its extensive primary health care network in particular stands out: there are 43,000 Family Health teams and 260,000 community health agents in Brazil, embedded in the community. The primary care network functions as a gateway for early case identification, referral of severe cases to specialized services, monitoring of vulnerable groups such as older people, people who are immunosuppressed, chronically ill, and pregnant women. The primary healthcare system also provides surveillance of mental health disorders, rates of domestic violence, and alcoholism during lockdown.

The joint performance of professionals working in the SUS system, universities and public scientific institutions, have historically helped overcome crises and produced sound public health responses, such as dealing with the Zika outbreak, or the national responses to the HIV and AIDS epidemic [5,6] Most importantly, responsibility for the health system in Brazil is decentralized and regionalized. [5] Decentralised funds for healthcare are larger than the funds transferred by the central state. States and municipalities manage hospitals and services, buy supplies, hire human resources, and carry out health surveillance. As the spread of coronavirus occurs at different time intervals and geographical regions, such decentralisation has allowed the implementation of locally-tailored measures. This localised approach has allowed to keep the epidemic in check to a degree, stopping its spread to the rural areas.

Despite all the challenges posed by the pandemic, it would appear that the checks and balances of Brazils democracy, together with its decentralized health system, still seem to be working, and are tapping into the countrys vast, if depleted, capacity to respond to the pandemic. It would appear that strengthening its national healthcare system and preserving the existing democratic institutions are Brazils only guarantees in dealing with covid-19.

Raquel Nogueira Avelar e Silva, Department of Clinical Epidemiology, Aarhus University Hospital, Denmark

Giuliano Russo, Centre for Global Public Health, Queen Mary University of London, The UK

Alicia Matijasevich, Department of Preventive Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, University of Sao Paulo, Brazil

Mrio Scheffer, Department of Preventive Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, University of Sao Paulo, Brazil.

Competing interests: None declared

References:

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British theatre has a class problem, and coronavirus could make it worse – The Guardian

Posted: at 10:30 am

Theatre, ultimately, is not about buildings or props or sets its about people. The people who make it, the people who engage with it, and the crossover between.

The greatest threat to the vitality of plays, musicals and live performance once the lockdown ends is a drain of people leaving the arts. Audiences who can no longer afford ticket prices against a backdrop of economic strain, reinforcing the idea that culture is not for them. Skilled artists particularly those from lower socioeconomic and working-class backgrounds (yes, we do exist in the arts) who cant afford to remain in the industry.

In normal times, theatre is a hugely profitable industry, and one of the UKs most successful cultural exports. But the industry has always been staffed by precariats. Despite the glamour of the trade, almost three-quarters of its employees, no matter what our backgrounds, are freelancers living from job to job. And a significant proportion of this workforce fell through the cracks of the governments job retention schemes.

Right now, nothing frightens theatre creatives more than a slowdown or reversal of even modest gains made in recent years in terms of the inclusivity and diversity of the theatre, on stage and off. These included Natasha Gordon becoming the first (and sinfully late) black British woman to have a play in the West End, with the extraordinary Nine Night, and the National Theatres commitment to 50:50 gender representation. But theres still so much left to do.

The postwar settlement in 1945 was built on the passionate belief that art for everyone was vital to peoples wellbeing and social cohesion. Our aspirations for the future of the industry should be just as hopeful and as high. Assuming the industry survives, its incumbent upon us to hardwire radical, imaginative, hopeful strategies into its recovery, ensuring greater access across society.

For this reason, class barriers require our full attention. Theatre has a class problem. Few would deny it, but there is often a squeamishness in talking about this particular area of representation and a lack of confidence in how to define it. I myself have wrestled with the existential angst that once you reach a certain level in the industry, you must abandon any claim to this identity.

There are also justifiable suspicions, particularly from black, Asian and minority ethnic artists, that the term class is deployed as a proxy to mean exclusively white, working-class men. So it is vital that any discussions of class must wholeheartedly intersect with every community, identity and culture in Britain, and for white working-class writers to amplify and champion their even more neglected peers.

The socio-economic group you were born into and the levels of social deprivation youve experienced are the most decisive factors in whether or not you go to the theatre, let alone carve out a career within it. It seems that half the country goes, half the country doesnt. And the half who dont are unlikely to want to if they cant hear their voices or see their own stories represented on stage.

There are glimmers of opportunity in this crisis. Zoom networks offering peer-to-peer support in quarantine have sprung up, including the digital coffee mornings for working-class artists led by Common, an arts and social justice organisation Im a patron of, alongside the director Matthew Xia and writer Nessah Muthy. Such engagement should continue as leaders listen to the lived experiences of their freelancers when deciding how to rebuild.

Theatre outreach and education departments have been some of the most dynamic during the pandemic. In Leeds, the theatre company Slung Low, based at The Holbeck, an old social club, has been active in distributing food and care packages in the community.

But other mountains feel steeper to climb. The cultural disparity between the south-east, where much of the arts and theatre industry is concentrated, and the rest of the country could grow wider as smaller local organisations and touring groups collapse. The unforgivable demise of arts education in state schools over recent years may further narrow the already limited pool of artists and audiences.

Most importantly of all, of course, are cheaper tickets. Cheaper, cheaper, cheaper, cheaper tickets. We know this will be even more challenging for theatre companies barely able to make ends meet. Whatever new, inventive, convention-defying methods that artists, fundraisers, producers and sponsors can collectively devise, our new theatre culture can only claim to represent contemporary Britain if everyone who lives here is allowed to come and see it.

James Graham is a British playwright and screenwriter

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Aggrieved customers of collapsed banks threaten to besiege Jubilee House – Ghana Business News

Posted: at 10:29 am

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A group calling itself Coalition of Aggrieved Customers of collapsed banks in the country has given the government a 14-day ultimatum to pay their cash deposits totaling millions of Ghana cedis or face their anger amidst the Corona Virus Disease (COVID-19).

The 2,221 aggrieved customers, spread across the Bono Region therefore threatened to embark on a protest march to besiege the Jubilee House, the seat of government if President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo failed to address their grievances.

According to the group, comprising customers of the defunct GN Bank and UT Bank, as well as the DKM and God is Love Micro-finance, whose cash deposits were locked-up following the collapse of the financial institutions, President Akufo-Addo had failed to refund their cash deposits.

Last year, the Bank of Ghana (BoG) revoked the licenses of some savings and loans companies in the country.

The revocation of the licenses of the financial institutions, according to the central bank were necessary because they were insolvent even after a reasonable period within which the BOG had engaged with them in the hope that they would be recapitalized by their shareholders to return them to solvency.

But, at a news conference held at Abesim, near Sunyani, some members of the coalition who wore red armbands and headgears to portray their anger, explained that the life time savings of many of them were locked up at the defunct banks, thereby collapsing their businesses and worsening their socio-economic livelihoods.

Many of us who entrusted our money and lifetime savings in these banks and financial institutions held on to Governments promise that our monies would be safe, Mr. Nicholas Saddari, the convener of the group, said.

We never anticipated that the Governments so-called clean-up of the banking and financial sector would take-down so many banks and financial institutions especially on the basis that Government itself indicated that it required between GH9 billion to GH13 billion to solve the crises in the banking and financial sector.

Today government is saying they cant pay us, so they have issued a five-year bond for our locked-up deposits, that is zero or no interest paid on our deposits and investments after we have to wait for the 5 years to receive our money.

Then after many of us depositors agitated by saying we cannot wait for five years then government tells us to take the five bonds to Consolidated Bank of Ghana which will discount the bonds by 50 percent of the face value amount of the bond and pay that to us whilst we forfeit or forgo the remaining 50 percent the bond value which CBG will keep.

Source: GNA

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COVID-19 Is Not the End of EU Solidarity – Valdai Discussion Club

Posted: June 17, 2020 at 1:07 am

The Union is founded on the values of respect for human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law and respect for human rights, including the rights of persons belonging to minorities. These values are common to the Member States in a society in which pluralism, non-discrimination, tolerance, justice, solidarity and equality between women and men prevail.

Article 2, Treaty of the European Union

The EU is a learning system. Most of its members are well aware that they fare better in a functioning union, based on mutual support and solidarity. It will take time and energy, but there is a good chance that the EU will not only survive the COVID-19 pandemic, but emerge from it stronger and in more solidarity, writes Valdai Club expert Sabine Fischer.

Many actions taken by EU member states in the early days of the crisis were considered egoistic and even nationalist. Sceptics felt vindicated in their belief that solidarity among nation states, a key pillar of the European integration, is delusional. The COVID-19 pandemic put the EU under enormous stress. But it is neither the end of EU solidarity, nor of European integration.

The first cases of COVID-19 infections in the EU were confirmed in January 2020. On 11 March, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the fast spreading virus a pandemic. Just two days later, on 13 March, it stated that Europe had become the epicenter of the pandemic.

Northern Italy was most affected by the disease. For weeks, images from Lombardy of overloaded hospitals, despairing health workers, coffins piling up in morgues and churches shocked the world. And yet, Romes late February call on Brussels for the urgent supply of personal medical equipment first went unanswered. It took EU member states almost three weeks to start deliveries. During that time, China, Russia and other third countries stepped in and made their support a powerful representation of their willingness and ability to compensate for the EUs failing its own member state.

The Italian case was the most blatant and depressing example of the EUs inability to appear as a union founded on solidarity during the first weeks of the COVID-19 pandemic. EU member states reacted in a largely uncoordinated cacophony of national health emergency measures, including the closure of borders in the Schengen zone and national requisition measures of medical equipment etc. This triggered a grave debate about how the pandemic accentuated the crisis of European integration and the prevalence of national interests.

EU solidarity was tested in four areas in particular: borders, emergency aid, individual government (re)actions, and strategies to meet the economic consequences of the pandemic.

Seeing border controls reinstated between France and Germany, Finland and Sweden, Portugal and Spain and so forth, came as a nasty shock for many. The freedom of movement is a key aspect and symbol of European integration, both in terms of relations between EU member states and of the rights of EU citizens.

What looked like (wealthier) EU member states banning medical supplies to other (less wealthy but more affected) EU member states reinforced the impression that nationalism had taken the better of European governments. To make things worse, some leaders and many populist politicians throughout the EU demonstrated a glaring lack of empathy and, indeed, solidarity with their fellow Europeans.

It is frequently overlooked in the debate that European law entitles EU member states to restrict the freedom of movement in case of an epidemic or other major threat to public health. The hasty decisions taken by EU capitals in the first weeks of frantic crisis management implied protective measures fully supported by the legal framework of the European Union. Opinions diverge about whether the closing of national borders was an efficient means to contain the pandemic. Future research will hopefully provide answers to this question. What is important here is that borders within the Schengen Area are now being re-opened in a gradual and better coordinated process. It would not be possible otherwise: the EUs member states and societies are too interdependent to keep them closed over a longer period.

Similarly, no EU member violated European rules by restricting the export of medical equipment. The question remains, however, why the EU proved unable to use its Civil Protection Mechanism quickly and efficiently enough so as not to disappoint the early distress calls from Italy. The EUCPM can be invoked when the scale of an emergency overwhelms the response capabilities of a country. Any country in the world, but also the United Nations and its agencies or other relevant international organisations, can call on the EUCPM and have done so on numerous occasions (for instance during Ebola outbreaks in African countries in 2014 and 2015, after an earthquake in Albania in 2019 or during forest fires in Sweden and other EU and non-EU countries in 2019). Once the mechanism is activated, the European Commission coordinates the response and covers up to 75 percent of the costs. However, the COVID-19 pandemic was and is an unprecedented challenge (not only) for the EU. In the early days of the crisis the EUCPM did not live up to an emergency situation of this scale. The EU (institutions and member states) will have to work towards better coordination and more capacity to act if they intend to avoid such pitfalls in the future. The current pandemic should give them ample opportunity to observe, draw lessons, and learn them.

It is a fact, though, that EU institutions responded to the pandemic from January on, including through co-financing the mass repatriation of EU citizens to their home countries (for this the EUCPM was activated successfully), joint efforts for research on the coronavirus outbreak, coordinating joint procurement of protective equipment, and shipping protective equipment to third countries (in February 2020, more than 50 tons of protective equipment went to China alone). From mid-March, help from inside the EU to heavily affected EU member states outmatched by far any support from outside its borders.

Communication seems to be at least as big a problem as the actions that have or have not taken place. The EU once again exhibited its well-known weakness in communicating (as) loud and clear (as others) what it is doing, and for whom. Only from mid-March did the European Commission start to publish more comprehensive and systematic information about its actions. The EU came (and perhaps still is) very close to losing the battle of narratives to countries such as China or Russia. Brussels cannot and should not match those actors communication techniques. But more can be done to make EU action transparent early on, both to EU citizens and to the world.

The bigger communication problem, though, lies with EU member states. Not all governments gave the impression that they were prioritizing European over national solutions. The fact that EU member states were affected very unevenly and took different roads in the battle against the pandemic (from near total lockdown in Italy and Spain to the very liberal policy in Sweden) has added to the controversy. Hungary evoked criticism in Brussels and other EU capitals for using the pandemic to further unhinge democratic principles. Polands Law and Justice Partys attempt to carry out the presidential election on 10 May, in the midst of the pandemic, triggered similar reactions. Like a magnifying glass, the pandemic exposed cracks and tensions between EU member states that undermine solidarity. It remains to be seen if there is enough political will in member states capitals to shrink them back to their pre-pandemic size.

The economic response to the pandemic will be of key importance for the EUs future. First initiatives, like a Corona Response Investment Initiative of EUR 60 billion, and fiscal and other measures to mitigate the socio-economic impact of the COVID-19 outbreak, entered into force in early April.

But yet again, the EU depends on its member states for more decisive action and for solidarity. The pandemic added fuel to the dispute about Eurobonds, which dates back to the financial crisis of the early 2010s. The Franco-German economic recovery plan, presented on 19 May, marks the end of long years of German resistance to a more flexible European fiscal policy. To be sure, Berlins decision is not a purely altruistic one. Germany would itself benefit from the newly created fund. Moreover, the German economy is highly dependent on, and therefore has a very strong interest in, a functioning single market. But the initiative has the potential to revive and strengthen the feeling of solidarity among EU member states, and also to unlock the lingering blockade between Berlin and Paris in other policy fields. The Commission has expanded and transformed it into a proposal for the European Council on 19 June. The meeting of the EU heads of states and governments will show if the EU is ready for this impulse.

Societies responded to the pandemic in a similarly multifaceted manner. Where governments enjoyed societal trust, vast majorities supported the drastic confinement measures. This was the case in countries such as in Denmark, Finland, or Germany. In France, where state-society relations had been tense before the outbreak, the government found it more difficult to gain approval for its pandemic policy. The situation of right-wing populist and euro-sceptic parties is inversely proportional for now, the pandemic has eroded their support base. A multi-country survey, commissioned by the European Parliament in April 2020, showed that six out of ten citizens were dissatisfied with the solidarity shown by EU member states. Only 42 percent approved of the measures or actions initiated by the EU. However, 69 percent said that the EU should have more competences to deal with crises such as the pandemic. Individuals, civil society organisations and companies across the EU have been engaging in impressive actions of solidarity to support elderly people, other vulnerable groups, and health workers. However, societal solidarity and support for governments may collapse if the economic crisis related to the pandemic drags on and compounds social inequalities.

The EU will have a lot to process after the COVID-19 outbreak. This is a crisis of unprecedented scale. It accumulates and reinforces many aspects of the three crises of the past decade (the financial crisis, terrorism, and migration). The EU was slow to act in the early days of the crisis. Since mid-March, Brussels has taken a much more active role, particularly with regard to managing the economic fallout of the pandemic. Its success will depend on two factors: First, will EU member states muster the political will to allow for the ambitious economic recovery plan to go forward? Secondly, will economic recovery policies manage to stabilise the socio-economic situation in member states and to curb social inequalities? The EU is a learning system. Most of its members are well aware that they fare better in a functioning union, based on mutual support and solidarity. It will take time and energy, but there is a good chance that the EU will not only survive the COVID-19 pandemic, but emerge from it stronger and in more solidarity.

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Global solidarity in the face of COVID-19 – UNDP

Posted: at 1:07 am

The COVID-19 pandemic has upended almost every aspects of life as we know it. Even those countries that are supposed to have the means to manage the spread and mitigate the effects are struggling.

Besides the US$5 trillion stimulus package that the G20 economies agreed to deal with the pandemic, individual countries are also devising various measures to shore up their health care systems, stabilize their economies, and assist affected workers and businesses.

Even before the full brunt of the coronavirus outbreak reached some of the poorest countries, the economic impacts are already being felt. With declining global demand for raw materials, breakdown of global supply chain, and mounting debt burden, the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic is estimated to exceed US$220 billion.

The urgent shouldnt crowd out the important

With greater uncertainty and fear of global recession looming, governments are looking for resources needed to lessen the socio-economic pains of the crisis. In this process, official development assistance (ODA) wont be spared and could come under increased scrutiny.

Decisions made now will have potentially devastating or transformative impact for years to come. Despite the economic and political pressure, we must protect ODA, which is needed more than ever.

The spread of COVID-19, especially in places with weak governance and health infrastructures is expected to be overwhelming if the international community does not act now.

In sub-Saharan Africa, many countries have the lowest number of physicians per capita in the world while some experience ongoing conflicts, making it difficult to fight the virus.

Collateral impact

The collateral impact of COVID-19 on health, education and nutrition systems will be extremely damaging, and in many cases irreversible, for children and society at large. And when the world opens up again, the resilience of the weakest health systems will dictate how well we do against future threats.

The UN Secretary-General Antnio Guterres, argued that, this human crisis demands coordinated, decisive, inclusive and innovative policy actionand maximum financial and technical support for the poorest and most vulnerable people and countries.

It is critical for the international community to fulfil the humanitarian appeal for COVID-19 response while protecting existing commitments to long-term development and other silent emergencies.

Doing so will help protect the most vulnerable people from being exposed to the effects of COVID-19 and preserve hard-earned development gains in fighting global poverty and expanding basic services.

Left to their own devises, fragile nations may risk the breakdown of socio-political order, civil unrest and state collapse, further exacerbating the dire situation.

A humanitarian and development crisis

COVID-19 is not only a humanitarian crisis, but also a development crisis. Development agencies are supporting countries to prepare for, respond to, and recover from the crisis.

The effectiveness of their response to certain degree depends on the flexibility afforded to them in funding and operational procedures.

To tackle this uniquely complex health and development crisis, the adequacy and flexibility of funding to development agencies are pivotal. Flexible core funding is already making a difference in the COVID-19 response to reach people in need faster, empower local actors, deploy essential supplies to the frontline, and protect the most vulnerable children, refugees, women.

Immediately responding to threats

This enabled the communities to practice due diligence and self-driven discretion to immediately respond to threats of the pandemic, while waiting for the pledged assistance to arrive. For instance, in Nigeria, funding flexibility allowed UNICEF to come up with an innovative solution to fight misinformation around COVID-19 while UNDP was able to support the government double the ventilator capacity in the country.

The COVID-19 pandemic is a devastating crisis in history. But it also posits an opportunity to remind the global community why multilateralism is vital to securing the worlds peace, security, and prosperity.

We witness how the health crisis of todays globalized world interlinks global economy, geopolitics, and social values. Our effective response to the public health crisis should be key to resolving the ensuing economic, humanitarian and development challenges.

A complex reality

Understanding this interlinked and complex reality of COVID-19, governments need to work together closely to take coordinated actions and share scientific information, resources and expertise.

It is this strong motion for collaboration that underpins the UN agencies commitment to reinforce the humanitarian-development nexus to jointly respond to the COVID-19 crisis, working closely through the UN Crisis team, humanitarian response plan, UN Response and Recovery Fund for COVID-19.

In Guinea-Bissau, WHO, UNICEF, UNDP, and IOM joined hands to help build isolation facilities and triage space, and procure necessary equipment for COVID-19, both for the national hospital as well as for the re-modelling of the UN clinic.

With strong solidarity and effective cooperation, the international community will not only arrest COVID-19, but also use the emergency to build back better health systems and a more inclusive and sustainable economy.

This article was originally published here.

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Is High Public Debt the Result of Excessive Social Welfare Spending? – Philippine Canadian Inquirer

Posted: June 13, 2020 at 12:49 am

This article begins by reviewing the EU-28 Member States public debt, focusing on debt-to-GDP ratios above 60 percent of GDP in 2018. The next step is to analyze the increase in the government debt-to-GDP ratio between 20o8 and 2018 in the Member States that fail to comply with the Maastricht Treatys 60 percent debt limit criteria. Finally, in these Member States, the causes of the increase in the government debt-to-GDP ratio are analyzed to determine whether theyresult from supporting social and pro-humanitarian causes. People at risk of poverty or social exclusion index have been used as a reference point to gauge social and pro-humanitarian causes.

Graph A

As shown in the Graph A in red color bars, there are14 EU Member StatesGreece, Italy, Portugal, Cyprus, Belgium, France, Spain, United Kingdom, Croatia, Austria, Hungary, Slovenia, Ireland, Germanyregistering a government debt ratio above 60% of GDP in 2018.

The highest government debt-to-GDP ratios were recorded by Greece (181.1%), followed by Italy (132.2%), Portugal (121.5%), Cyprus (102.5%), Belgium (102%), France (98.4%) and Spain (97.1%). Also, it must be noted that these 14 EU Member States have maintained a government debt-to-GDP ratio above 60% of GDP during the years 2014-2018.

Graph B

Data Source: Graphic of own elaboration from data of Eurostat

For these 14 Member States, Graph B shows the percentage change in the value of the government debt-to-GDP ratio in 2018 compared to 2008. We see that,except Hungary and Germany, all of them have experienced a percentage increase in the government debt-to-GDP ratio.

Continuing with the analysis of these 14 Member States, Graph C shows the average percentage of people at risk of poverty or social exclusion in the period 2008 to 2018.

Graph C

We turn now to consider the Member States that have experienced an increase in the government debt-to-GDP ratio. Thus, Graph B shows thatcomparing the government debt-to-GDP ratios values in 2018 with those of 2008, Slovenia and Spain have witnessed the most significant increase in the government debt-to-GDP ratio 221.55% and 145.82% respectively.

Ironically, before the 2008 economic-financial crisis, these two countries were among the lowest sovereign debt levels in Europe. So, for example, in 2007, the ratio of public debt/GDP in Spain was 35.6% and Slovenia 22.8%. It must be emphasized that the sharp rise in the government debt-to-GDP ratio in both countries is a result of a remarkable bank recapitalization.

This is a well-known story.In the years prior to the crisis of 2008, the construction sector became the main driver of economic growth, employment, and tax revenues in both economies.

Banks stimulated the demand with high loan-to-value (LTV) mortgages to borrowers for housing, 80%, and in some cases 100% LTV. And, of course, obviously, as a result of the crisis property prices started to fall, and the banking and finance sector suffered heavy loan losses.

In this context, both Member States carried out a banks recapitalization process, taking charge of the bad loans, and thus absorbing high capitalization costs which led to a sharp rise in gross government debt. Therefore,the increased value in the government debt-to-GDP ratio over the period 2008 to 2018 was not attributable to support of social causes, but the consequence of a speculative model whose main characteristic is a bubble-based economic growth.

This type of socio-economic behavior meant cutbacks of the public money for development and welfare. As we can see in Graph C, between the period 2008 until 2018, the index measuring people at risk or social exclusion has remained high, presenting on average 26.75% for Spain and 18.59% for Slovenia.

As shown in Graph B, Cyprus and Croatia occupy the third and fourth place in the rising government debt-to-GDP ratio when comparing the government debt-to-GDP ratios values in 2018 with those of 2008. This means an increase of 124.78% for Cyprus and 91.28% for Croatia.

Photo Credit Ethan McArthur/ Unsplash

For Cyprus, the cause of the rising public debt levels was a result of a bank recapitalization.Cyprus had to bail out its banks with the aid of the EU funds and the IMF. This situation increased the countrys government debt. The countrys major banks were highly exposed to Greek debt and, consequently,the write-down of Greek debtcaused them a lot of damage.

In the case ofCroatia, there was an intensive government indebtedness to undertake large infrastructure projects. After the 2008 economic-financial crisis and during the following years of recession, we are in a context of weak economic growth and lower budget revenues, leading to the rapid growth of public debt and a rise in the government debt-to-GDP ratio.

In this macro scenario,there is a critical issue of country vulnerability as a large share of the public debt is denominated in foreign currency exposing it to foreign currency risk.Therefore, I consider thatin the period analyzed, a key factor in the rising public debt level was a result of downward pressures and weakening of its local currency.

So here also, as shown in Graph C,we do not see that the increased level of government debt was useful for (or the result of) supporting social purposes.For the period from 2008 to 2018, the index measuring people at risk or social exclusion registered an average of 25.82% for Cyprus and 29.31% for Croatia.

As can be seen in Graph B, during the period from 2008 to 2018, the United Kingdom, Portugal, Greece, and Ireland experienced an increase in the government debt-to-GDP ratio of 74.64%, 69.45%, 65.53%, and 52.83%, respectively. In these countries, the sharp increase in the ratio has different causes.

Photo Credit: Markus Spiske / Unsplash

So, for example,Portugal, before the 2008 economic-financial crisis, suffered a combined effect of weak economic growth and cheap credit expansion to the private sector. Between 2008 and 2014, it experienced an economic crisis characterized mainly by falling GDP, banks recapitalization as a result of non-performing loans, and reduction in the tax revenues.

This macroeconomic context contributed to higher government debt levels and the rise in government debt-to-GDP ratio. In others, such asIrelandand the United Kingdom, as Spain and Slovenia, the main causes for increasing public debt followed a similar pattern.

Thus, in the first phase,there is a real estate boom based on bank loans. As a result, home prices increase, giving rise to property bubbles. In 2008, the economic collapse bursts the property bubbles, and banks are not able to recover the full amount of the money they had lent. Finally,the governments step in to bail out banks and this remarkable bank recapitalization led to a strong increase in government debt level.

As for France, Graph B shows a 43% increase in the government debt-to-GDP ratio in the period analyzed. On the explanation of the rise in public debt and the consequent rise in the government debt-to-GDP ratio, I see the point of view offered in thisreportas very appropriate. I think that many of its conclusions can be extrapolated to other European countries. France, registering an average of 18.42%, has the lowest value in the index measuring people at risk or social exclusion, as seen in Graph C.

As shown in Graph C, for Ireland, Portugal, and the United Kingdom, the index measuring people at risk or social exclusion registered an average of 26.71%, 25.23%, and 23.18%, respectively. We are once again seeing that the increase in sovereign debt in these Member States was not the result of supporting social causes.

Regarding Greece, I believe that the main causes of the increased level of government debt can be attributed to the inaccurate information provided to secure its position in the eurozone, rather than to blame it for an excessive expenditure, high government salaries, protectionismIn fact, in the period 2008-2018, Graph C shows that Greece registering an average of 32.6 % heads the ranking in measuring people at risk or social exclusion index.

Graph B shows thatItaly with 29.10%, Belgium 10.27%, and Austria 7.42% are the Member States that experienced the lowest increase in the government debt-to-GDP ratio when comparing the values in 2018 with those of 2008.These countries have similarities in their sovereign debt dynamics in that period.

All of them show an increase in sovereign debt generated as a result of measures taken to support the banking sector and a slowdown in the GDP growth rate. A clear example is the combination of slower GDP growth and rising public debt to provide financial support toAustrias banking system.Belgium and Italypresent a similar dynamic of poor growth performance and troubled banks with NPLs.

In addition,political instability experienced by both countries between 1970 and 1990 contributed to the accumulation of high public debt levels.With respect to Italy, it must be pointed out that before the crisis of 2008, it showed the highest ratio of non-performing loans (NPLs) among the countries of the eurozone.

As in all other such previous cases,the increase in sovereign debt in these Member States did not originate as a result of supporting social improvements. As the Graph C shows, the average percentages of people at risk of poverty or social exclusion in the period 2008-2018 for Italy, Belgium and Austria are 27.74%, 20.75%, and 18.75%, respectively.

Photo Credit: Steve Buissinne/ Pixabay

Concluding Observations:

Consistent with all the above,bank recapitalization was a key factor that led to a drastic increase in sovereign debt.It should be stressed that the sovereign debt created as a result of the banking sector recapitalization is financed from public funds,which implies a trimming for the development and welfare of people.

It is a well-known and elementary cycle, Member States bail out banks, as a result, sovereign debt soars, and government bonds yields go up. Subsequently, in order to reduce the government bonds yields (cost of public debt) and interest rates, ECB buys government bonds to inject liquidity into the economy through a program known as Quantitative Easing (QE).

Furthermore, strict austerity measures and structural reforms are imposed to decrease the government deficit and debt.Austerity measures lead to a socio-economic deterioration(higher unemployment rates, greater tax burden on households, drastic spending cuts in healthcare, social care, education, drop in consumer spending)and the government debt-to-GDP ratio worsens.

Now, taking all the above into account, I wonder whether a high public debt is really just a financial problem. Arguably, it looks like a necessary component of economic behavior and social lifestyle, which eventually evolves into a control political tool over the highly indebted Member States. The question is out.

This article is written by Lucas J.M. Alonso and originally posted on Impakter.com.

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