G20 Summit: Abdication of Responsibility
The Communique issued after the virtual G 20 summit on March 26 2020 denotes total abdication of any responsibility by advanced economies to address the problems created by COVID19 pandemic in the lives and livelihood of a great mass of people. The fact that G20 summit was held months after WHO notified the pandemic as a global health emergency has more to do with its spread to USA and West European countries than the havoc created by this new mutant of Corona. Not long ago the mandarin in White House was gloating over the discomfiture of China.
The very fact that the Summit was held in the first place is due to the widespread anger among the people in western imperialist countries against casual and callous handling of the looming pandemic and disruption in supply chain of drugs, masks, in general the items necessary for tackling the health emergency. Production of these items was long shifted to other countries due to their labour intensive nature or greater expenses in meeting mandatory environmental requirements for their production in western countries. Now they need them, hence the talk of co-ordinated global response, of “Sharing materials and increasing production of medical supplies” and the like.
G20 Communique has no concrete measure to help the developing and less developed countries, in fact the overwhelming majority of the people of the globe. That these countries face resource crunch has been “noted” but not acted upon; effusive words but nothing more. The Communique does not have any concrete measure for helping the poorer countries.
The failure of the Summit can be seen from the elementary steps it failed to take to address the situation created by the pandemic. It failed to call for ceasefire in different parts of the world. Imperialists and reactionaries are waging wars in different parts of the world but the Summit did not issue such a Call. Moreover, it did not call for lifting of all sanctions at least for the period of tackling of pandemic so that medical and other supplies can be ensured in the fight against the pandemic. Even the suggestion to provide corridors for transport of goods- medical and other supplies was not agreed to. This was the minimum expected from the Summit but the western powers did not agree to these measures.
On the medical aspect, the Communique says, “We fully support and commit to WHO’s mandate in co-ordinating the international fight against the pandemic”. G20 “commit to provide immediate resources to WHO’s COVID19 Solidarity Response Fund”. With US and West Europe emerging as the epicenters of the Pandemic, this commitment makes immense sense in their own interest.
The major part of the Communique deals with the economic aspects and addressing the disruptions caused by the Pandemic in these countries. While countries like India are mainly dealing through police response, the unrest brewing in these countries is being handled with injecting large stimuli into the economy. The Communique notes, “We are injecting $ 5 trillion into global economy ….. to counteract the social, economic and financial aspects of the pandemic.” US has enacted a $2.2 trillion package equaling 11% of its GDP while Germany has allotted nearly 20% of the GDP to address the pandemic. $5 trillion package is mostly in these countries and a major part of it is to help the big business, though, to contain the social unrest, measures to help the working people and small businesses are also part of it. There are already reports of social unrest in Italy and some other countries in the West. $ 5 trillion package includes all these packages and there is no commitment of any help to any poor country in the world, Africa included, though the continent has been mentioned by name. G20 mentioned that they are “ready to mobilize development and humanitarian financing” but there is nothing more than expressing their readiness; in brief no concrete measure.
The Communique notes the disruption to Employment and Livelihood but fails to outline any global or co-ordinated response to this. The communiqué merely notes, “We also ask the ILO and the OECD to monitor the pandemic’s impact on unemployment.” It does not go an inch further to specify what they would do after monitoring this impact.
Govts. are injecting a lot of public funds to tackle the pandemic. In a number of countries private hospitals, nursing homes and clinics are being brought under govt. control/nationalized. A large dose of public money is being injected to lighten the economic impact of the pandemic. However, it all only means using public funds to safeguard private capital from the shocks whose impact is largely due to one-sided siphoning off of public funds for private profit, scaling down and cutting on the public health schemes and institutions. Now with deep crisis, public money is being spent on saving capitalism from a catastrophe of its own making. It is a new version of Keynesianism which had been pressed into service to save capitalism from the Great Depression and whose various incarnations have been adopted in the crisis situations. This only shows that capitalism even in its highest stage, imperialism, is inherently unstable and needs support of the state not only for suppression of workers but also for its own survival. It essentially and since long has been public money maintaining private interests.
Even in this hour of grave concern, as so expressed by the rulers of G20, they did not fail to emphasize, though tongue in cheek, the enlisting of private sector in this fight against the pandemic. They were more blatant in dispelling any doubt of gratis help to needy countries. They committed to make the medical supplies “widely available” but “at affordable prices.” With people losing their means of livelihood and employment, what remains “affordable” for them?
The Communique is whole sale abdication of the responsibility by the developed countries for the consequences of the policies they have thrust upon the world i.e. unbridled privatization. These policies have seen decline of expenditure on public health and refusal to invest in scientific research for addressing the diseases still dogging the developing world killing millions every year and the mushrooming of private hospitals & commercialization of the health services in the govt. hospitals. All this in name of “public private partnership”, where public pays all the bills and private cashes all the cheques.
Along with the news of G20 summit came the news that Indian PM Modi has advocated reform of WHO. However, no details were forthcoming nor any relation of this to the WHO’s handling of COVID19 pandemic explained. One is left wondering whether the former RSS pracharak was taking objection to the “science based global response” mentioned in the Communique for which WHO’s mandate for coordinating the international fight had been supported and whether he would like it to be replaced by a faith- based response!