Beirut, 2 August 2021--Government fiscal support to recover from the devastating effects of the COVID-19 pandemic has reached nearly $19 trillion; however, the 132 low- and middle-income countries—i.e. 85% of the world’s population—account for only 10% of it, while the 62 high-income countries account for 90%.
This stark inequality, raising questions on the world’s ability to recover quickly and equitably from the pandemic, is one of the many findings of the COVID-19 Stimulus Tracker, a global observatory on the social protection and economic measures of 194 Governments of UN Member States developed by the UN Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA), in cooperation with the UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA).
The Tracker is a pioneering tool which gathers, in an unprecedented effort, all government support measures for both people and the economy in one dynamic digital platform. It facilitates comparison and analysis of adequacy of those measures and determines their beneficiaries to help identify those left behind.
The Tracker provides a wealth of information on global stimulus as a whole and sheds light on the required further financial needs for better recovery. It also contains a comprehensive catalogue of policy responses, classified under the different categories of social protection and economic support.
“Since the outbreak of the gravest crisis of the century, demand for social protection virtually exploded. Our tracker shows that, as of May 2021, Governments all over the world had deployed 1,850 social protection responses, compared with only 103 in March 2020,” ESCWA Executive Secretary Rola Dashti underscored. However, “the wide disparity in fiscal responses combined with current challenges of access to the vaccine pose high risks for equity in global recovery,” she continued.
Dashti stressed that “the pace of recovery is expected to be low in regions that have high fiscal constraints”. Estimates from the Tracker show that low- and middle-income countries need an additional $5 trillion to recover from COVID-19 and catch up to the global average of fiscal support as a share of GDP, which currently amounts to about 23%.
The Tracker enables peer learning among countries to improve government readiness for responding to future shocks. It shows, for instance, that Governments have adopted several innovative measures to support livelihoods during the pandemic, such as expanding the coverage of social protection to informal sector workers. It also highlights that countries with limited financial resources have mostly resorted to doing without expected revenues, including waivers for rentals and utilities, as well as tax exemptions.
“A global call for supporting countries in strengthening social protection systems in the larger framework of recovery plans is timely. The Tracker backs this call with evidence, helping us to understand patterns emerging from policy actions and providing important lessons on how to build forward better,” Dashti concluded.
The Tracker was launched on 13 July on the sidelines of the High-Level Political Forum. “It is a living database,” said Amina Mohammed, UN Deputy Secretary-General on the occasion. “We encourage member States to contribute and sustain it with data,” she added.
One of five United Nations regional commissions, ESCWA supports inclusive and sustainable economic and social development in Arab States, and works on enhancing regional integration.
For more information: