Vaccines are the key to global economic recovery, but governments should strive not to end stimulus programs prematurely. To do so would risk undermining a return to the kind of sustainable economic growth that will be essential to getting people back to work.
The COVID-19 health and the related economic crisis were the focus of a two-day online OECD Global Parliamentary Network meeting in which a large delegation of NATO Parliamentarians participated. This year’s joint conference featured a range of OECD experts including its Secretary General, Angel Gurría. It also engaged the Women Political Leaders network. The meeting was open to Parliamentarians from OECD countries and beyond, as well as to Parliamentary officials.
In the opening session, the Chair of the Assembly’s Economics and Security Committee, Philippe Folliot (France), spoke of the many years of cooperation between the NATO PA and the OECD, thanked the Secretary General for recognising the essential role parliamentarians play in advancing informed economic policies, applauded his many years of service at the OECD and noted that economic recovery was high on the NATO PA’s 2021 agenda. Indeed, this year the NATO Parliamentary Assembly’s Economic and Security Committee’s Sub-Committee on Trans-Atlantic Relations will produce a report by Faik Oztrak (Turkey) on the global economic crisis and recovery.
The discussions largely focused on recovery strategies for OECD countries and lessons learned from the pandemic. Governments have responded to the recession with powerful and ultimately effective fiscal and monetary responses that have kept national economies afloat under dire conditions.
Developed countries should now use the time bought by these expansive policies to design sustainable public financial frameworks that continue to counter the impact of the COVID-19 shock while delivering sustainable and inclusive long-term economic growth. A key challenge lies in ensuring that governments “build back better” by investing in a more green and inclusive economy while embracing essential technologies that raise productivity over the long term.
Legislators heard that vulnerable groups, including women, young people and relatively unskilled workers have disproportionately suffered adverse impacts during the recession. Innovative policies will now be needed to ensure greater equity as economies move into the recovery phase.
Public health issues are also high on the agenda at the OECD. Vaccine development has unfolded at an unprecedented pace, and international scientific cooperation has been an essential element of this story. The challenge now lies in effectively and equitably distributing vaccines as production ramps up. Developing countries, however, must be included in this global effort. Doing so could be worth as much as USD 9 trillion for the global economy over the 2020-25 period and would add an estimated USD 4 trillion to OECD member country economies.
The conference concluded with a discussion about how the pandemic has both exposed weaknesses in the resilience of national health-care systems and triggered a significant rise in mental health problems which have been enormously costly in social and economic terms. It is particularly worrisome that young people and women, among others, have been compelled to cope with serious mental health challenges due to the stress and isolation induced by the pandemic, school closings and rising rates of domestic violence.
The OECD has launched a platform to provide policy makers with comprehensive information and analysis on the COVID-19 crisis. The platform is available in five different languages, including English and French: www.oecd.org/coronavirus/en/.
The programme of the two days meeting and all the presentation are available on the OECD Global Parliamentary Network website www.oecd.org/parliamentarians.