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Tharman to co-chair G20 panel on financing for pandemic preparedness

Tharman to co-chair G20 panel on financing for pandemic preparedness

Senior Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam speaks at a panel discussion during the Bloomberg New Economy Forum in Singapore on Nov 7, 2018. (File photo: AFP/Roslan Rahman)

SINGAPORE: Senior Minister and Coordinating Minister for Social Policies Tharman Shanmugaratnam will co-chair a newly formed Group of Twenty (G20) panel on financing for pandemic preparedness and response.

G20 members agreed to establish the "high-level independent panel" on Tuesday (Jan 26), announced G20, the Bank of Italy and the Italian Ministry of Finance in a press release on Wednesday.

The other co-chairs of the panel are former US Treasury secretary Lawrence Summers and Nigeria's former finance and foreign minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala.

The panel, proposed by the Italian G20 Presidency, will assess current financing systems and propose viable solutions for the longer term, said the press release.

It is tasked with "identifying the gaps in the financing system for the global commons for pandemic prevention, surveillance, preparedness and response".

READ: Nations toughen COVID-19 fight as pandemic rages worldwide

The panel aims to propose solutions to meet these gaps and leverage resources from public, private and philanthropic sectors and international financial institutions.

In a post on Twitter, Mr Tharman said he was "happy" to co-chair the initiative.

"There's no avoiding a basic lesson of COVID-19: We have to invest in a stronger international system, to avoid the immense costs of a pandemic on nations large and small," he said.

"We can and must develop practical solutions for better funding of the global commons, and to revitalise multilateralism. Finance is not the whole solution, but it is indispensable to a safer world."

READ: Learn lessons from COVID-19, invest in technology to prepare for 'Disease X' – DPM Heng

Panel members are "world experts, who collectively bring deep knowledge and experience in finance, governance and global health", said the press release.

They will build on the World Health Organization's (WHO) assessment of gaps in pandemic preparedness, and on ongoing initiatives aimed at enhancing global preparedness and response.

In particular, the panel will interact with global health agencies including the Independent Panel for Pandemic Preparedness and Response established by the WHO, said the press release.

The panel will provide an interim report at the G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors' meeting in April, before presenting its recommendations during their July meeting.

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Source: CNA/dv(cy)

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