- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 2, 2009

UNITED NATIONS (AP) - Top U.N. officials welcomed Thursday’s pledge by the Group of 20 nations to provide $1.1 trillion in new lending, but said the lack of specifics made it difficult to tell how much help will be going to the world’s have-nots.

It was unclear, for example, what will happen even if the nations triple as promised the money available to the International Monetary Fund, which makes emergency loans to struggling countries, bringing it up to $750 billion.

“Nobody can of course calculate who’s going to benefit exactly which way from different measures,” said Ad Melkert, acting head of the U.N. Development Program, in an Associated Press interview.

“That is not specified in the text,” he said. “So for us at the U.N., it’s going to be extremely important to hold those donors and countries to account to really make sure that the rich man’s worry doesn’t remain the poor man’s plight.”

In announcing a series of measures to address the global financial meltdown, the G-20 also said after its meeting in London that it would provide $250 billion in financing for trade by other international lending organizations and sell IMF-held gold to poor countries.

“There is this discrepancy that there seems to be more specificity for financial systems and institutions, and also the resources available for lending to middle-income countries, and there is much less specificity for the poorest countries,” Melkert said.

He called for “a better balance there … to bridge the gap” between the wealthy countries and the poor.

But Melkert, whose agency operates in 166 nations, said at least “there is a kind of political recognition now that the financial and economic crisis and the human development crisis are inextricably linked.”

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon attended the London summit to deliver that message, and he also came away with a sense of caution. “It will be critical that the share of this going to the poorer countries is delivered,” Ban said.

Ban noted that the G-20 leaders “asked the U.N. to monitor the impacts of this and future crises on poor and vulnerable people _ in order to spur action.”

The G-20 leaders agreed to meet again in September, in New York, in conjunction with the next U.N. General Assembly.

According to Ban’s tally, G-20 leaders additionally pledged “at least $300 billion in aid over the next two years” by reaffirming previous commitments to boost aid and help countries achieve the U.N.’s “millennium goals,” which include reducing poverty, hunger and disease and improving children’s health and education.

“For the poorest countries this will be crucial. The world will be watching,” Ban said, adding that he was pleased the leaders also “recognized the inextricable links between addressing the economic crisis and addressing food security and climate change.”


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