Paris Summit: Tinubu, World Leaders Plan Onslaught Against Poverty, Debt

President Bola Ahmed Tinubu yesterday in Paris, France, joined world leaders in reaching a consensus to redesign the global financial architecture in a way that will favour poverty reduction, debt restructuring or cancellation, and more consideration for vulnerable countries affected by climate change and Covid-19.

The president arrived at the venue of the event, Palais Brongniart, at 8.59am (local time), for the opening ceremony of the High Level Summit for New Global Financing Pact, and he was received by the French Minister of Europe and Foreign Affairs, Catherine Colonna.

According to a statement by presidential spokesman, Dele Alake, while welcoming the world leaders to Paris, French President Emmanuel Macron, said the Summit would focus on drawing up a new financial order that will scale up finances, and support developing countries in energy transition and poverty reduction, while respecting the sovereignty of each nation.

The French president noted that African countries had been at the receiving end of the major global challenges, with debt hangovers that hamper growth and development.

“COVID-19 pandemic brought lots of difficulties and now we are faced with the war in Ukraine that has been draining resources that should be channeled into human development,” he said.

Macron told the leaders from 50 countries, multilateral institutions and the private sector that justice and fairness must be imperative in redesigning the new world financial architecture, with more focus on the most vulnerable.

The French President listed four elements for consideration by the leaders, starting with an acknowledgement that reducing poverty would require collective efforts, with a more diverse and comprehensive framework.

“We must admit that no country can succeed alone in reducing poverty and protecting the planet,” he added.

Macron said the framework should be relevant to each country, and subregional roles included, with clear responsibilities and benefits, while multilateral institutions like the International Monetary Fund and World Bank must be re-engineered to be more people and solutions driven.

The French President noted that the private sector must be carried along in the new pact that seeks to harmonise growth, as they control most of the financial instruments that need to be liquefied for more even development, especially on health, education and food security.

On behalf of the African countries, the president of Niger Republic, Mohammed Bazoum, said the new pact must be  “urgent” and “essential” to Africa, and the framework should be “just” and “robust” in reflecting the reality of developing countries as partners.

Bazoum said the challenges of impoverishment and desertification had stimulated unrest in most countries, affecting peace and stability in sub-regions and the continent.

“In Africa, we need support for infrastructure, health, food security and education,” he stated.

UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, told the gathering of leaders that the high level summit would need more mobilisation and political will for redesign and implementation.

Later yesterday, he said ongoing reforms, starting with removal of fuel subsidy and streamlining of exchange rate, will be sustained for a more competitive economy that attracts Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), urging investors to take advantage of opportunities in Nigeria.

“We are ready for business, prepared to welcome investments,’’ he said, while receiving president and chairman of the Board of Directors of African Export-Import Bank (Afrexim), Prof. Benedict Oramah, and president of European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), Odile Renaud–Basso, in separate meetings, on the sidelines of the summit.

In a statement by presidential spokesman, Dele Alake, the president assured the delegation of AfreximBank executives led by Dr Oramah that the federal government will continue to stimulate the economy with policies that support investments in areas of Nigeria’s competitive advantage, particularly agriculture.

“We need reforms for national survival,’’ he said. “We must stimulate recovery for the growth and prosperity of our people, which will not be far away. Nigeria is ready for global business and our reform is total. Nigeria is blessed with human and material resources,’’ President Tinubu told the delegation.

The president of AfreximBank commended President Tinubu for the bold steps in removing the fuel subsidy and unification of the exchange rate, assuring the Nigerian leader of the full support of the financial and development institution on the ongoing reforms.

Dr Oramah said the bank was already building the first African Specialist Hospital in Abuja, and an Energy Bank, even as he pledged to inject more money into the economy to further build confidence of investors.

In the meeting with the EBRD, President Tinubu said, “We are challenged in terms of reforms, and we have taken the largest elephant out of the room with the removal of fuel subsidy, and multiple exchange rates are equally gone. We are determined to open up the economy for business. Consider us a stakeholder in the Bank.’’

He told the EBRD president that Nigeria’s economy was too large and potent to be ignored, adding, “Ignoring Nigeria will be a peril to the universe.’’

Renaud-Basso said it would be a mistake for the development bank not to invest in Nigeria, after considering six potential economies for investment.

She explained that focus would be on the private sector, especially Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (SMEs).

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