President Joko Widodo attends the Non-Aligned Movement virtual summit from the Bogor State Palace on Tuesday. (Photo courtesy of the Presidential Press Bureau)

Jokowi Calls for Debt Leniency for Emerging Powers Bogged Down by Covid-19

BY :NUR YASMIN

MAY 05, 2020

Jakarta. President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo called for debt leniency for developing countries struggling with the Covid-19 pandemic at the Non-Aligned Movement, or NAM, virtual summit on Monday.

"We need to voice and fight for commitments on development and humanitarian assistance, debt relief and debt repayment obligations from official creditors that can be transferred to finance government handling of Covid-19," Jokowi said in a statement on Tuesday.

The president added G20 member countries should start implementing their commitment to suspend debt payments for low-income countries.

Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi, who accompanied the president in the meeting, said the money saved from the debt relief will be used to pay for government expenses in handling the coronavirus crisis. 

"The debt payment can be diverted for Covid-19 expenses, basically a debt swap from official creditors. Many developing countries, and especially least developed countries, are struggling to manage the Covid-19 pandemic," Retno said in a statement on Tuesday.

Jokowi said NAM was formed to banish all forms of imperialism and neo-colonization.

"Now our common enemy is Covid-19. We need to strengthen our political solidarity to end it, and we need to translate that into concrete cooperation," he said.

Jokowi said patent regime and intellectual property rights for possible Covid-19 vaccines and medications should be made more flexible.

"Covid-19 medications and vaccines should be made affordable," he said.

The Non-Aligned Movement virtual summit was held to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Bandung Declaration, which established the movement during the Asia-Africa Conference in Bandung, West Java, in 1955. 

The summit carried the theme of "United Against Covid-19" and was joined by over 40 heads of state from Asia, Africa, Europe and Latin America. 

Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev, the NAM chairman for 2019–2022, convened the meeting.

The United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres and Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the director-general of the World Health Organization, also attended the meeting.

The movement is the largest international grouping after the UN, comprising two-thirds of the body's member states.

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