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The Interview

Covid-19: OECD chief says it's a ‘false dilemma to say choice between lives and livelihoods’

OECD Chief Angel Gurria talks to France 24
OECD Chief Angel Gurria talks to France 24 © France 24 screengrab

The global economy has been turned on its head by the coronavirus pandemic, with predictions of the worst recession in 90 years. The head of the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD), Angel Gurria, has told FRANCE 24 that it is a “false dilemma to say to have to choose between lives and livelihoods”, and that dealing with both the virus and the economic consequences are interlinked.

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He said that he expects the economic downturn to be more severe in the period from April through June, after several major economies fell into recession in the first three months of 2020.

"The sooner you deal with the question of lives, the better you will deal with the question of livelihoods going forward. But also you have to keep an eye on how you're going to deal with the recovery period later. In the meantime, however, we're not out of the woods yet: we're still dealing with the first and second stage, which is this re-opening."

Gurria warned that the issue of the cost of government programmes like short-term unemployment will have to be addressed, but not in the immediate future. “I don’t think we’re in for a debt crisis like we had in the past,” he said. “There is going to be a price to pay, and we also have to be aware of that”.

Despite the pandemic, the OECD chief said work is continuing on efforts to overhaul the international tax rules for the digital economy: “It’s good for everybody, including for the companies that are involved here, to have legal certainty, so we might as well strike a deal now.”

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