Voice of Global South Summit 2023

Remarks by Minister of Finance and Corporate Affairs, Smt. Nirmala Sitharaman at the Finance Ministers’ Session of the Voice of Global South Summit

- January 12, 2023
  • Excellencies from Belize, Chad, Colombia, Djibouti, Eritrea, Guinea-Bissau, Lebanon, Lesotho, Mauritius, Nepal, Nicaragua, Sierra Leone, Sri Lanka, Sudan, and Zambia.
    Excellencies, it is my privilege to welcome you all to the ‘Voice of the Global South Summit’. I deeply appreciate your participation at this virtual summit, despite the significant time difference for some of our guests.
  • The world is confronted with numerous challenges and is bracing itself for other unforeseen ones as we speak today. We continue to face an economic slowdown, rising inflation, the threat of a resurgence of the pandemic, and risks emerging from geopolitical conflicts.
  • As we seek to rebuild from the pandemic, the Global South should continue to exhibit strong solidarity. It is with this objective in mind that this Summit is being held. The pandemic, climate change and geopolitical tensions have affected efforts for development and economic growth, especially in the case of small States, which have been the hardest hit during the pandemic.
  • It is amidst these persisting challenges and increased uncertainties that India took over the G20 Presidency last month, starting 1st December 2022.
  • With its broad-based agenda-setting and consensus-based decision-making process, the G20 has become the most significant platform to deliberate on and address global economic issues.
  • In recent years, the G20 has helped the world navigate through multiple shocks and continues to provide guidance on economic coordination. India intends to take this legacy forward and further build upon it to make it even more relevant, especially for the Global South. India’s G-20 Presidency is an opportunity as well as a responsibility to encourage collective solutions and rebuild trust in multilateralism.
  • Our theme for the G-20 Presidency is Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam, which means ‘One Earth, One Family, One Future’. While unveiling the theme, Hon’ble Prime Minister Mr Modi emphasised the importance of the Indian Presidency in offering a ray of hope for the world. While maintaining close relations with developed countries, India is keen to put forward the point of view of the Global South, our co-passengers on the path of development for decades. We strongly believe that there should not be any first world or third world, but just one world, with a shared understanding for a common future. In this background, India has taken this opportunity to organise the present Summit to enable an exchange of ideas which would provide valuable input to progress towards our collective goals.
  • I am hopeful that today’s session will set the stage for us to exchange views and ideas towards building a common understanding. It would also enable me, especially as the lead of the G-20 Finance Track, to reflect on common issues affecting our economies and incorporate them in relevant G20 discussions. The Finance Track brings together representation from the Ministries of Finance and Central Banks and enables discussion on a range of issues of global relevance, such as international financial architecture, sustainable finance, international taxation, and financial inclusion, among others.
  • Coming to the theme for today’s session, "Financing People- Centric Development”, India’s approach to development is inclusive and people-centric and is marked by respect, diversity, care for the future, and sustainable development.
  • India’s development partnership initiatives, particularly capacity- building, form a core element of our foreign policy. India’s capacity-building initiatives have emphasised critical drivers of people-centric development like digital transformation, good governance, education, financial inclusion, healthcare delivery, heritage conservation and lifestyle, among others.
  • For decades, India has been at the forefront of Development Cooperation efforts in myriad sectors through grants, Lines of Credit, initiatives under the Indian Technical & Economic Cooperation Programme, small development projects, technical consultancy and disaster relief and humanitarian aid. Our Development Cooperation projects are becoming role models for knowledge sharing and capacity building in other countries of the Global South.
  • India appreciates the role of International Financial Institutions and Multilateral Development Banks in enabling the global economy to deal with numerous challenges. However, the unforeseen hardships that the pandemic posed for the world have exposed vulnerabilities at all levels and shown that a major scale-up of response mechanisms is required. We must explore mechanisms so that the support provided by these institutions is responsive to country-specific needs, sustainable as well as scalable. We believe that strengthening Multilateral Development Banks is key to addressing the global challenges of the 21st century.
  • As we speak, global debt vulnerabilities are on the rise, posing threats of systemic global debt crises. The global economy was already facing a growing debt problem, further aggravated by the pandemic and the recent geopolitical tensions. Debt distress is significantly pronounced for economies caught between servicing external debt and addressing essential domestic requirements like food and fuel. Needless to say, such a situation also hampers the climate transition efforts of many countries. If left unaddressed, these mounting debt vulnerabilities can trigger a global recession and push millions into extreme poverty.
  • Under India’s G-20 Presidency, financing for the social dimension of sustainable development is an important priority. While it seems that the majority of the global efforts are focused presently on tackling climate issues, it is essential that world leaders also focus on the social dimension of development to tackle pressing issues like increasing social inequalities, and learning losses, among others. We cannot neglect the fact that many nations today face increasing financing gaps for achieving Sustainable Development Goals.
  • Another priority for India’s G-20 Presidency is enhancing socio- economic development through innovative, responsible and cost- efficient Digital Public Goods. In recent times, we have seen several advancements in the implementation of digital public goods. India has developed its India Stack, which is a digital architecture based on Identity, Payment Systems and Data Empowerment & amp; Privacy.
  • A significant proportion of the world population still remains untouched by these advancements. The India Stack, which is a collection of technology products and frameworks, has not only brought India’s population of 1.4 billion into the digital age but can also become a valuable tool for the Global South in the future. Hon’ble Prime Minister of India launched indiastack.global in July 2022 as a single repository of all digital public goods which can be applied in any country.
  • Innovation in the FinTech space can be a changer for financial inclusion efforts. Ingenious ideas in this area can potentially expand access to finance for small and medium enterprises. However, this would need work on our part to increase digital financial literacy, awareness and digital financial management skills.
  • India aspires to contribute to socio-economic reforms globally through the G-20 platform during its Presidency. India stands ready to share its experiences in critical areas such as the use of digital tools and financial inclusion initiatives to augment global efforts in the financial sector.
  • While there are numerous areas where India has made steady and significant advancements, we still have many problems to resolve. Many of you face similar challenges. By sharing both our concerns and our innovations, we can prepare for a better future for all of us.
  • I invite you all to share your views and ideas on issues of mutual interest, your specific circumstances, challenges and needs. I also look forward to hearing about unique experiences and initiatives in your countries that have contributed to making the lives of your people better. Your input and views will provide valuable guidance towards collectively working for a better tomorrow.

Thank you