Finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman has pitched for an extension of the Debt Service Suspension Initiative (DSSI) by six months through December 2021 to continue support to vulnerable economies in the wake of the Covid-19 crisis.

In April last year, the G20 nations were asked by the World Bank and the IMF to set up DSSI. Its aim was to support countries utilise their resources in protecting the lives as well as livelihoods of millions of vulnerable people in these nations. The DSSI has delivered about $5 billion in relief to more than 40 eligible countries since was made operational on May 1, 2020. Initially, the debt service suspension period was to expire on December 31, 2020. However, it was then extended through June 2021.

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Participating in the second G20 finance ministers and central bank governors meeting, Sitharaman had focussed on policy responses to global challenges to bring back sustainable, balanced and inclusive growth, according to an official statement.

Apart from supporting the financing needs of the most vulnerable economies, G-20 member countries discussed the progress on the international taxation agenda, promoting greener transitions and the pandemic-related financial regulation issues, it added.

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The finance minister also highlighted the need for progress on commitments made under the Paris Agreement on climate finance and technology transfer.

Sitharaman suggested that while channelling flows of international financial institutions into green transitions, it should also be recognised that the immediate challenge, particularly for developing and low-income countries, is to restore growth, according to the statement.

The minister also exhorted G20 members to make sure that the access and distribution of Covid vaccines remain widespread and equitable.

India, she stressed, has covered over 87 million citizens in its vaccination drive so far and has supplied over 64 million doses to 84 countries, including 10 million doses as grant.

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