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G-20 summit: Indian PM Modi calls for new Global Index in post-pandemic era

NEW DELHI (XINHUA) – Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has called for a new Global Index for the post-coronavirus world, at the Group of 20 (G-20) summit in Saudi Arabia.

The index should include elements such as the creation of a vast talent pool, ensuring technology reaches all segments of the society, transparency in governance systems, as well as dealing with the Earth with a spirit of trusteeship.

“Based on this, the G-20 can lay the foundation of a new world,” said Mr Modi on Saturday (Nov 21).

In his opening remarks at the summit, Mr Modi called for decisive action by the G-20, not only limited to economic recovery, jobs and trade, but also to focus on preserving planet Earth.

This is because “all of us are trustees of humanity’s future”, he said.

The Covid-19 pandemic was an important turning point in the history of humanity, and the biggest challenge the world was facing since World War II, Mr Modi said.

Convened by Saudi Arabia, the 15th G-20 Leaders’ Summit is being held till Sunday.

Conducted in a virtual format, the summit centred on the theme “Realising Opportunities of 21st Century for All”, which has assumed greater importance in the wake of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

The agenda of the summit is spread out over two sessions on overcoming the pandemic, economic recovery and restoring jobs, and building an inclusive, sustainable and resilient future.

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Besides, there are also side events planned on the two days on pandemic preparedness and on safeguarding the planet.

The summit continues on Sunday, culminating in the adoption of the Leaders’ Declaration and with Saudi Arabia passing on the presidency to Italy.

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Economy

G-20 agrees on debt framework to help poor countries hit by coronavirus

TOKYO (REUTERS) – G-20 finance ministers have agreed for the first time on a new joint framework for restructuring government debt, in anticipation that the coronavirus crisis will leave some poor countries in need of deep relief.

The Covid-19 pandemic is straining the finances of some developing countries and the G-20 ministers said on Friday (Nov 13) that they recognised that more would need to be done to help them than a current temporary debt freeze, which will be extended until June 30, 2021.

Major creditors, including China, will be expected to follow the common guidelines laying out how debt which is deemed unsustainable can be reduced or rescheduled.

The new framework outlined on Friday borrows heavily from the rules of the Paris Club, an informal grouping of mostly rich country governments that until now was the only joint forum for negotiating debt restructurings.

Under the new framework, creditor countries will negotiate together with a debtor country, which will be expected to seek the same treatment terms from private sector creditors.

G-20 finance ministers said in a joint statement that the framework aims “to facilitate timely and orderly debt treatment” for countries eligible for a debt payment freeze put in place in April, but which included only private sector creditors on a voluntary basis.

“The fact that we, including non-Paris Club members, have agreed on the issue of this kind was historical,” Japanese Finance Minister Taro Aso said, adding that private sector creditors should also stick to the new framework.

“From now on, all interested parties must ensure to implement the common framework. Debt transparency is extremely important,”Mr Aso told reporters after a G-20 conference call.

The new framework also goes further than the debt freeze by requiring all public creditors to participate, after China was criticised by G-20 partners for not including debt owed to its state-owned banks.

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China has become a major creditor to developing countries in recent years, often by lending through institutions such as China Development Bank and China Exim.

But China is wary about debt write-offs and Beijing has defined the state-owned China Development Bank as a private institution, resisting calls for full participation in debt relief.

The Paris Club, which is organised by the French Finance Ministry, and G-20 countries already agreed last month to extend this year’s debt freeze under which they deferred US$5 billion (S$6.7 billion) in debt servicing to help the world’s poorest countries cope with the coronavirus crisis.

G-20 leaders are expected to endorse the common framework at a virtual summit meeting next week.

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