Protecting and Transforming Social Spending through the Covid-19 Crisis

The global economic crisis induced by the COVID-19 pandemic is severe and has dramatic consequences for countries across the income spectrum. In spite of the initial large volumes of additional finance, many governments’ fiscal stimulus packages are already giving way to fiscal consolidation, with a ripple effect on budgets for essential social services and the potential to erode progress in health, education, and poverty reduction. The social impacts of both the pandemic and the economic recession will be highly unequal. And as in previous economic crises, the effects on children risk undermining human capital and children’s wellbeing for years to come.
As countries begin to face the fiscal onslaught, there is an urgent need to focus on the most effective investments and best use of existing resources, and to consider how best to utilize new sources of funds to protect human capital and to build a more resilient, robust and inclusive system for the future.
There is a wealth of evidence and knowledge on cost-effective policies in the social sectors and on how to improve the management of public finance to generate fiscal space for social investment. These can provide insights on how the increased spending for Covid-19 response was financed and the implications of this activity for social spending as the pandemic recedes.
This seminar invites the public, development agencies, IFIs and national governments to reflect on the challenge of the COVID-19 pandemic and the associated economic crisis to social spending, to discuss solutions to protect social spending and extend sustainable and inclusive financing during the recovery phase, and to identify practical ways to enhance collaboration among agencies in support of country governments.
The focus will be on three inter-related sets of issues with a focus on supporting country-level processes, and explored through global and regional perspectives, with concrete examples from country experience.
– What are the most effective interventions that should be prioritized within the social sectors (health, education, social protection, and water and sanitation), and how do we make the case for these investments within the medium and longer term in the COVID response?
– What are the specific mechanisms and tools that can be used to support countries to avoid harmful austerity, protect and coordinate social spending, and to identify fiscal space and new resources to invest in social priorities? How can agencies work together at country level to support the adoption of priority policies? What mechanisms and opportunities exist for greater coordination at global and regional level to support this?
– How can we support better budget data, transparency and accountability on social spending in the context of COVID-19 and beyond?