APEC FINANCE MINISTERS TO ADVANCE FISCAL STIMULUS, PRESS FOR DIGITAL INNOVATION
Finance Ministers from 21 APEC member economies pledged to continue to use all available policy tools to support the immediate response to the COVID-19 pandemic and move towards a strong, sustainable, balanced and inclusive recovery.
Ministers met virtually on Friday against the backdrop of a major global economic and health crisis and together deliberated on fiscal and monetary interventions in mitigating the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. The meeting also endorsed a joint statement reflecting finance ministers’ views on policy actions that are required to mitigate risks and fast-track recovery.
“As the pandemic threatens to overwhelm health and economic systems around the world, member economies have responded with a wide range of measures including the containment of movements and bolstering healthcare services while at the same time providing financial support to households and businesses,” explained Malaysia’s Minister of Finance, Tengku Zafrul Tengku Abdul Aziz, who chaired the virtual APEC Finance Ministers’ Meeting.
Member economies have rolled out significant fiscal stimulus packages for up to 40 percent of the regional economy’s collective growth domestic product, coupled with monetary easing policies to address the impact of the pandemic. The measures are targeted at protecting employment, bolstering health systems and providing direct support to households and businesses, including vulnerable communities and micro, small and medium enterprises.
Recognizing the protracted duration of the pandemic, ministers acknowledged the ongoing need to advance stimulus measures to help with recovery, while underscoring the importance of improving fiscal sustainability and transparency to support long-term resilient development and future financing needs.
“Due to the movement restrictions and the need to comply with social distancing requirements, it is interesting to observe how quickly the world embraced digitalization with more people and businesses turning to online shopping, contactless payment and online or mobile banking,” Tengku Zafrul added.
Ministers encouraged the expansion of financial services through digital tools, highlighting the need to accelerate digital adoption and innovation as it allows economies to advance financial inclusion despite the need for social distancing.
Looking ahead, ministers are committed to bolstering momentum toward economic recovery by pushing structural reform efforts, keeping markets open, reinforcing global supply chains, investing in high quality infrastructure and health systems, protecting jobs, supporting communities and businesses and strengthening social protection.
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