Covid-19 economic fallout may push half billion people into poverty: Report

Migrants wait for a bus to their native village, in Ghaziabad. Photo: PTI
Around half a billion people could be pushed into poverty as a result of the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic unless richer countries take urgent action to help developing nations, a leading aid organization warned Thursday.

In the run-up to three key international economic meetings next week, Oxfam has urged richer countries to step up their efforts to help the developing world. Failing to do so, it added, could set back the fight against poverty by a decade and by as much as 30 years in some areas, including Africa and the Middle East.

The devastating economic fallout of the pandemic is being felt across the globe," said Jose Maria Vera, Oxfam International Interim Executive Director.

The report, which is based on research at King's College London and the Australian National University, warns that between 6% and 8% of the global population could be forced into poverty as governments shut down entire sectors of their economies to manage the spread of the virus.


#COVID19 LATEST: Half a billion people could be pushed into poverty by coronavirus.

— Oxfam International (@Oxfam) April 8, 2020

As an example of the repercussions of the lockdowns in many Western countries, the report notes that more than a million Bangladeshi garment workers 80% of whom are women have already been laid off or sent home without pay after orders were cancelled or suspended.

Oxfam is calling on world leaders to agree on an economic rescue package to keep poor countries and poor communities afloat. Finance ministers from the Group of 20 leading economies are set to meet next week, as are the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.

But for poor people in poor countries who are already struggling to survive there are almost no safety nets to stop them falling into poverty. Among the measures Oxfam is recommending is the immediate cancellation of $1 trillion worth of developing countries' debt payments due in 2020.

It said cancelling Ghana's external debt payments this year, for example, would enable the government there to give a cash grant of $20 a month to each of the country's 16 million children, disabled and elderly people for a period of six months.

Oxfam is also recommending a $500 million increase in overseas aid and the creation of $1 trillion of special drawing rights at the IMF, a move that effectively increases the liquidity available for developing countries in the crucial months ahead.

Covid-19 impact: 195 mn full-time workers may lose jobs globally, says ILO

The coronavirus pandemic is expected to erase 6.7 per cent of working hours globally during July-December, 2020 - equivalent to 195 million full-time workers, which far exceeds the effects of the 2008-09 financial crisis, the International Labour Organization (ILO) warned on Tuesday.

Large reductions are foreseen in the Arab states (8.1 per cent, equivalent to 5 million full-time workers), Europe (7.8 per cent, or 12 million full-time workers) and Asia and the Pacific (7.2 per cent, 125 million full-time workers).

Huge losses are expected across different income groups, especially in upper-middle income countries (7 per cent, 100 million full-time workers), said the ILO.

"Workers and businesses are facing catastrophe, in both developed and developing economies. We have to move fast, decisively, and together. The right and urgent measures could make the difference between survival and collapse," Guy Ryder, ILO's Director-General, said in a statement. Read on...

Hiring of IT freshers by firms may be delayed amid coronavirus outbreak

Hiring of fresh engineering graduates from college campuses by information technology (IT) services companies is likely to be delayed owing to uncertainties arising out of global spread of coronavirus (Covid-19). IT firms are expected to absorb these freshers in a staggered manner. Sources in the know said the chances of dishonouring joining letters seem remote at this point in time.

Since most IT firms anticipate a demand slowdown in the coming quarters, hiring from tier-III and IV engineering colleges through walk-in interviews is going take a massive hit in 2020, said industry experts.

“Freshers, slated to join in May-June, are likely to be scheduled for onboarding in August-September. Some IT firms are likely to defer their joining, based on the developments in the US, the UK, and Continental Europe,” said Aditya Narayan Mishra, director & chief executive officer at CIEL HR Services. In a worst-case scenario, only 5 per cent of offer letters may not be honoured, he said. Read on...

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