Debt forgiveness will spur growth in emerging economies – Professor GL Peiris

G.L. Peiris

Foreign Minister Professor G.L. Peiris yesterday said that the developing countries, battered by the COVID-19 pandemic will be able to use their scarce resources for the welfare of their people, if the World Bank adopts a policy of debt forgiveness.

He added that Sri Lanka is among the developing countries badly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic in terms of the economy.

“Sri Lanka normally earns US$ 4.2 billion from tourism a year. That has come to a complete stop. Our trade relations have been affected. Remittances coming into the Sri Lankan Treasury from expatriates in countries like Italy have been affected,” he said

Prof. Peiris said that if the World Bank adopts a policy of debt forgiveness, Sri Lanka will be able to accelerate and facilitate the economic development of the country. Referring to Bretton Woods Institutions, the Foreign Minister said these institutions were fashioned in a certain political context at the end of World War II. “The world has changed a great deal since then but these institutions remain largely as they were,” he noted.

The Foreign Minister was addressing the Ministerial Session of the Inter Faith Summit held in Bologna yesterday. Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio chaired the session. Maltese Minister for European and Foreign Affairs Evarist Bartolo co-chaired the session. Rector of the College of Europe Fedrica Mogherini and Foreign Ministers of Libya, Turkey and Hellenic Republic were present.

The Foreign Minister asked whether the United Nations systems are functioning in a manner that was envisaged by its founding fathers.

“We need to ask ourselves in a spirit of frankness and candor whether the United Nations system is functioning today in a manner envisaged by its founding fathers. If we look at the seminal document of the UN system – the Charter of the United Nations, are we really behaving in the manner that was envisioned by this sacrosanct instrument,” he asked. “I don’t think one could sincerely answer that question in the affirmative.”

He stressed the UN Security Council has failed to reflect the realities of the modern world.

“Look at the composition of the Security Council. Does it in any way reflect the reality of the modern world? It does not. It reflects a certain balance of power that was only realistic at the conclusion of World War II. But today there are emerging powers,” he said. The Minister was of the view that the entire UN organization needs to be basically overhauled to bring it in line with contemporary realities. Prof Peiris referring to the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) said that NAM looked at each foreign policy issue on its merits. This movement began and flourished in the context of a bipolar world.

(Source: Daily News)