Sharjah: The 11th International Government Communication Forum (IGCF) running from September 28 - 29 showcased the importance of quality crisis communication by governments in light of the economic impact of the pandemic at a panel discussion hosted at Expo Centre Sharjah.

Intellectuals, thought leaders and experts at the session titled ‘Economic crises - between positive containment and negative adjustment’, outlined how countries around the world went on a massive overdrive through various measures and non-pharmaceutical interventions, both to control the spread of Covid-19 and limit its consequent economic impact. Interventions included diagnostic testing, contact tracing, isolation and quarantine for infected people; while reducing mobility and social distancing was also crucial in the containment strategy.

On a macro level, fiscal and monetary tightening led to challenges to the troubled global economy. “Increased production, deregulation and reduced taxation would have served as a remedy,” said Steve Forbes, Chairman, and Editor-in-Chief, Forbes Media. “In certain geography, the ill-timed withdrawal of subsidies have contributed to its already-battered economic condition along with internal unrest.”

Younis Haji Al Khoori, Under Secretary, UAE Ministry of Finance, said: “The United Arab Emirates had both effective and innovative strategies to battle the pandemic crises that included transparent government communication, concentrating on the educational system with online learning, and swiftly rolling out healthcare technologies across the country. In addition, we had the Central Bank giving facilities to companies through banks. Managing the crisis at all levels, if I may say so.“ 

“For effective implementation of any economic policy in general, communication with the society is not something that can be avoided or put aside. Real time, clear messaging is essential and must go hand in hand alongside any new economic policy,” said Dr. Ehab Abu Aish, Deputy Minister of Finance for Treasury Affairs and Public Services, Egypt.

Effective government communication is imperative for any progressive country to have a happy society and sustainable future for its people. Dr. Shashi Tharoor, former UN diplomat and author from India, stressed, “The very purpose of government communication is for the respective government to show its governance with utmost transparency in a reliable manner.”

The speakers noted that in the process of mitigating the economic crises and the pandemic turmoil, governments across the world adopted many approaches through varied strategies: micro, macro, experimental and trial and error. Some were well intended and purposeful, others were proactively innovative, and some were not successful. Nevertheless, it was communication by the respective governments that brought about the intended results, they said.