KATHMANDU, May 5: The second wave of COVID-19 has fuelled the worsening conditions mainly of the people in low income and vulnerable groups, which will aggravate the widening of the gap between the rich and the poor, said Finance Minister Bishnu Prasad Poudel.
Speaking at a virtual meeting of the finance ministers of member states of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) on Wednesday, Poudel said the ongoing risk of coronavirus has added more challenges in the economic front at a time when countries have been struggling to recover the damages caused by the first wave last year. “The current situation of pandemic spread has seriously affected the manufacturing and service sectors including the tourism business,” he said.
A massive decline in per capita income is being seen with a fall in employment opportunities; a slowdown in business and reduction in aggregate demand. This has increased challenges in achieving inclusive growth, human development and poverty alleviation targets.
Poudel stressed the need for increasing access to procure vaccines against the pandemic by all SAARC member countries. The participants underscored the need for collaborative efforts to minimize the impact of COVID-19 and achieve socio-economic recovery.