Webinar Session III: COVID-19, Debt And Inequality In South Asia

Webinar Session III: COVID-19, Debt And Inequality In South Asia

Date: 10 June 2020, Time: 3 pm– 4.30 pm (Nepal time)

An online discussion on “COVID-19, Debt and Inequality: Restructuring the Architecture of Financing for Public Sectors.”

Hosted by : South Asia Alliance for Poverty Eradication (SAAPE) & FORUM-ASIA 

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought the crises in multiple spheres of our lives. In this context, South Asia Alliance for Poverty Eradication (SAAPE) and FORUM- ASIA are aiming to exchange information and learning from the efforts of State and the Civil Society Organisations to respond to this issue and enhance post-pandemic recovery actions by bringing a focus on human rights and development in the South Asia. For this purpose, FORUM-ASIA and SAAPE are hosting the webinar series, The State of Human Rights in the Time of COVID-19 Pandemic in South Asia starting from 20 May 2020. The first session of the webinar
held on 20 May was on redefining and strengthening human rights activism and development work in the context of COVID-19 in South Asia and the second on 27 May 2020 to discuss the measures to protect women’s and children’s rights in South Asian countries in the context of COVID-19 pandemic.

The third session of the webinar series will be held on 10 June 2020 to discuss the COVID-19, Debt and Inequality: Restructuring the architecture of financing for public sectors. The COVID-19 pandemic has not brought only a public-health crisis, but an all-engulfing economic crisis jeopardising human dignity and quality of life. As much of normal life is suspended for three months or more, job losses are inevitable particularly for the poor and marginalised. As per the recent ILO report, the continued sharp decline in working hours globally due to the COVID-19 outbreak means that 1.6 billion workers in the informal economy-that is nearly half of the global workforce-stand in immediate danger of having their livelihoods destroyed. The economic and social consequences of those measures came as secondary afterthoughts. Yet, it is those postscripts that now threaten seem to be worse than the disease that they are suppose to cure particularly developing or least developed countries. While the shortage of financial resources and deficit of budget were normal phenomena in global south even in pre COVID situation, the COVID-19 pandemic has created an alarming situation putting pressure on the national budgets to address the current crises through public spending. In this context, the demand for debt cancellation has again emerged as an important issue for the countries in the global South. To strengthen the quality of basic services in the countries the cancellation of debt is extremely important. States need to invest more resources in the public sector to better prepare countries to face such challenges in the future.

This session will attempt to present an overview of the current debt burden of South Asian countries where millions of poor and marginalised people are impacted more by the COVID-19 pandemic. The webinar will take place from 03:00 pm to 04:30 pm, Nepal time.


• What immediate measure should South Asian countries take in reducing debt burden in the contexts of current COVID-19 pandemic crisis that further exacerbated inequalities due to poor quality of basic services in the countries?
• What strategy the South Asian countries should take in long term to reduce debt burden and allocation of genuine use of the financial resources to strengthen the public sectors financing?
• What role could the social movements and CSOs play to make the demand of debt cancellation stronger and convincing?


Online Zoom meeting, around an hour and a half, maximum of 500 participants can participate with 3 to 4 speakers. The session will allow a few discussants selected from the registered audience to comment (around 2 minutes) on speakers’ presentation to promote debate. There will be open forum (15-20 minutes) to make some interventions from the participants. The session will allow participants to share their comments through the chat box. As time allows, questions and comments will be transmitted to the speakers by the moderators. Speakers will present their deliberations in 8-10 minutes (each speaker) based on the guiding questions.

Members of the FORUM-ASIA and SAAPE will facilitate and moderate the session. Following the webinar there will be a summary report with presentations and issues from the chat box presented online with other webinar outcomes in the series.


ModeratorNetra Prasad Timsina– Regional Coordinator, SAAPE

Speakers Presentations and Moderated Discussion

03:10: Mustafa Talpur, Inequality Campaign Lead-Asia, Oxfam International

03:20: Sushovan Dhar, SAAPE Core Committee member and anti-debt campaigner, India

03:30: Abul Haseeb Khan, Director/member secretary, Resource Integration Center (RIC), Bangladesh

03:40 Amali Wedagedara, Anti-debt campaigner, Sri Lanka (5 minutes)

03:45 Zulaikha Rafiq, SAAPE member Afghanistan (5 minutes)

03:50 Nalini Ratnarajah, Women’s rights activist, Sri Lanka (5 minutes)

03:55: Moderated Discussion and Q&A

04:25: Reflection of the deliberation and closing: Debendra Prasad Adhikari– South Asia Programme Manager, FORUM- ASIA

Registration and connection details:

The webinar will take place via Zoom. Click here to get registered to attend the meeting. Any interested individual can participate in the webinar however; the priority will be given to the registered participants if the quota of participants exceeds.

You can go directly through this link to join the webinar.

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