50 Nations Promised Cash to Fight COVID-19

As the world grapples with COVID-19, governments face a daunting challenge: limiting the adverse impact of a pandemic that has ground economic activity to a halt, affecting people at a scale rarely seen before. More than 50 countries, including the United States, have announced some form of cash transfer or social assistance to help tide over the immediate challenges faced by their citizens. While many of these efforts are one-off measures to mitigate the immediate impact, some may turn out to be more long-term depending on how widespread the economic and human cost of the pandemic turns out to be.

Delivering on these promises will require an enormous increase in the capacity of states to make payments to their citizens, or government-to-people (G2P) transfers, as they are widely known. Every government transfers money to people in some form—public sector salaries, pensions, scholarships, grants and vouchers to the poor, and so on—so there is existing capacity, including delivery mechanisms, to draw upon. But in most countries existing systems will not be adequate, either in volume or coverage, to help those affected make it through the economic disruption. 

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