Saturday, 1 April, 2023
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Modi urges G20 finance leaders to focus on ‘most vulnerable’

Modi urges G20 finance leaders to focus on ‘most vulnerable’

Policymakers of the Group of 20 leading economies should focus on helping the world’s most vulnerable people, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Friday as top-level financial talks kicked off in the Indian technology hub of Bengaluru.

“You represent the leadership of global finance and economy at a time when the world is facing serious economic difficulties,” Modi said in a video address to the finance ministers, central bank governors and other leaders attending the meetings, which wrap up Saturday.

“It is up to you, the custodians of the leading economies and market systems ... to bring back stability, confidence and growth to the global economy,” he said.

As countries deal with slew of challenges in the aftermath of the pandemic, including unsustainable debt, conflict, inflation and eroding trust in international financial institutions, Modi said, “I urge you to focus on the most vulnerable people in the world.”

The meetings in Bengaluru are due to touch on a wide range of issues including digital currencies and payments, reform of institutions like the World Bank, climate change and financial inclusion.

Multiple meetings between various leaders were also scheduled, including talks between U.S. and British officials and meetings of India’s finance minister, Nirmala Sitharaman, with her counterparts from France and Brazil.

As is usually the case, broader issues such as the war in Ukraine are overshadowing the talks.

On Thursday, U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen reaffirmed she would push for stronger sanctions against Russia for its invasion of Ukraine and better enforcement of restrictions meant to hinder Moscow’s war effort.

The G-20 meetings offer a chance for leaders to consider how to coordinate their policies: many central banks including the U.S. Federal Reserve have been raising interest rates sharply to try to rein in decades-high inflation brought on by various factors including the war and rebounding demand for travel, goods and services following the COVID-19 pandemic.

With increases in income lagging far behind, rising costs for food, housing, fuel and fertilizer impose huge burdens, especially on the poor and in developing nations, where debt burdens have surged both at the national and household levels.

As the G-20 host this year, India is taking the opportunity to showcase its ascent as an economic power.

Modi suggested the gathering could “draw hope from the vibrant Indian economy,” which is forecast to grow at a more than 6% annual pace this year, making it one of the fastest growing in the world. He also pointed to the country’s digital payments technology as a model to be emulated.