|Overview : |
Post Level: National Consultant
Type of Consultancy: Individual Consultancy
Expected start date: June 2020
Period of assignment/services: Up to 7 Months
Background: COVID-19 brings upon us unprecedented challenges in terms of policy response. In order to contain the spread of the virus and ensure health systems’ capacity to respond, governments worldwide are having to make decisions about implementing policies such as social distancing, lockdowns, border closures, and quarantines. While these policies help to flatten the epidemiological curve, they also bring economic activity to a halt. These decisions are even more complicated in the developing world where governments lack capacity, resources are more scarce, higher shares of the population are at risk of falling into poverty, and labour markets operate with high levels of informality. An effective policy response to COVID-19 in this context must simultaneously: (1) defend health systems from collapse in order to minimize deaths from COVID-19 and other causes; (2) protect independent workers who are losing their income during forced lockdowns; (3) protect employment, to protect employee’s labor incomes and ensure engines of productive activity are not turned down in a way that takes longer to restart them once the health crisis is over; and (4) find the sources to finance the additional expenditure required for (1), (2) and (3) ensuring fiscal responsibility. In addition to responding simultaneously on these various fronts, governments must act fast, making decisions under high levels of uncertainty and often without the ideal information at hand. Moreover, uncertainty about what a future steady state will look like, makes it ever more difficult to effectively incorporate principles of sustainability into the policy response. Governments are making hard decisions in real time under high levels of uncertainty and under the restrictions of available information. They are hard pressed for analytical work to help them shape policy on at least four fronts: 1. They must make sure that the safety net extended to protect households from falling into poverty while quarantines and other social distancing measures are in place are appropriate. The same applies to policies put in place to protect employment and businesses, to prevent human capital destruction and to address domestic violence. 2. They must organize to co-exist with COVID-19 until a vaccine is developed, which implies putting in place policies that allow economic activity to gradually restart while ensuring the health systems’ response capacity is not compromised. Adequate policy sequencing will be critical for success. 3. They must plan how to rejuvenate economic activity recovery at a good pace once the pandemic is under control. 4. They must prepare to address and solve systemic fragilities evidenced by COVID-19, that have resulted in a limited response capacity. In addition to difficulties in coordinating activity across different.
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