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ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan has told the world community that the COVID-19 pandemic has illustrated the oneness of humanity, locking down to control the pandemic has triggered the worst recession since the Great Depression in the last century, and Pakistan adopted a policy of "smart lockdown" in order to ensure that people do not die of hunger, and the government allocated an unprecedented eight billion dollars for our health services, etc. Addressing the 75th session of United Nations General Assembly in New York, he said today, Pakistan's response is cited among the success stories in controlling and responding to the pandemic.

"However, we are still not out of the woods yet," he added.

The prime minister said that it was obvious from the outset that developing countries would need fiscal space to respond to, and recover from, the Covid crisis and debt relief was one of the best ways to create that fiscal space for developing countries.

The IMF has estimated that developing countries would need over US $2.5 trillion to respond and recover from the crisis.

He said that the official debt suspension would need to be extended and expanded as well as additional debt relief measures would also be needed, development banks should ensure adequate financial inflows.

He also highlighted the damage that illicit financial flows from developing countries to rich countries, and to offshore tax havens, cause. The quest for getting back these stolen resources is nearly impossible, given the cumbersome procedures.

If this phenomenon is unaddressed, it will continue to accentuate the inequality between the rich and the poor nations, and eventually will spark off a far bigger global crisis than the present migration issue poses. The prime minister called upon the UN General Assembly to take the lead in efforts to build a global framework to stem the illicit financial flows, and ensure speedy repatriation of stolen wealth.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2020