BRICS to create special fund for post Covid-19 reconstruction

Akhilesh Suman
BRICS leaders from left to right, South Africa's President Jacob Zuma, Brazilian President Michel Temer, Russian President Vladimir Putin, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and Chinese President Xi Jinping attend BRICS Business Council and Signing ceremony, at the BRICS Summit in Xiamen, Fujian province, China, Monday, Sept. 4, 2017.

BRICS leaders from left to right, South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma, Brazilian President Michel Temer, Russian President Vladimir Putin, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and Chinese President Xi Jinping attend BRICS Business Council and Signing ceremony, at the BRICS Summit in Xiamen, Fujian province, China, Monday, Sept. 4, 2017.

BRICS nations — Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa — on Tuesday resolved to create a special fund of $15 billion to rebuild their post- COVID-19 economies.

The BRICS fund was announced by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov who chaired the video conference of BRICS foreign ministers.

Foreign Minister S Jaishankar represented India at the meeting that was initiated by Lavrov.

“We decided to set up a special loan instrument to finance projects for the economic rebuilding of Brics countries. We decided to allocate up to $15 billion and we believe this can be a very good foundation for our economies to leave the crisis behind and restore economic activities,” Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov told reporters in Moscow.

Member nations discussed at the meeting issues that ranged from healthcare to trade, financial sustainability and creating new avenues of employment.

Economic experts of BRICS are expected to meet on Wednesday, while a similar meeting of healthcare experts will take place on May 7.

The New Development Bank (NDB) established by the BRICS nations will mobilise the fund. Incidentally on April 22, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and Russia’s Finance Minister Anton Siluanov were elected vice chairperson and chairperson of the NDB’s board of governors.

At Tuesday’s meeting, putting forth India’s view, Foreign Minister S Jaishankar urged members to help businesses tide over the crisis caused by COVID-19. He also sought a strategy from BRICS partners to enable middle and small scale enterprises find their feet and save livelihoods.

“We need to provide support to businesses, especially MSMEs, to tide over the crisis and ensure livelihoods are not lost,” EAM Jaishankar said. He further sought efforts to help the global economy overcome the disruption of global trade and supply chains.

Jaishankar also underscored the need to reform multilateral systems by making development and growth central to their plans to meet the challenges posed by COVID-19. In this context, he emphasised that India had started taking actions to combat COVID-19 even before the World Health Organisation had declared it a pandemic.

The Indian External Affairs Minister said the challenge posed by Covid-19 “underlines that reformed multilateralism is the way forward”.

He also highlighted the efficacy of traditional medicine systems in strengthening immunity to fight the COVID-19.

Besides Jaishankar and Lavrov, Ernesto Araújo, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Brazil, Wang Yi, State Councillor and Foreign Minister of China, and Grace Naledi Pandor, Minister of International Relations and Cooperation of the Republic of South Africa took part in the meeting.

BRICS nations comprise 42 per cent of the global population. While China and India rank first and second in terms of populations, Russia and China are permanent members of United Nations Security Council.

Speaking of India’s efforts to coordinate the response to Covid-19 in South Asia, Jaishankar also mentioned the creation of the SAARC Emergency Fund. He outlined how India is proactively responding to the needs of various countries including P-5 nations by providing medical aid to nearly 85 countries, both developed and underdeveloped on commercial and grant basis.