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ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan has emphasised allocation of Special Drawing Rights (SDRs) of $500 billion to help alleviate balance-of-payment pressures for most-stressed countries and a framework for equitable and affordable supply of Covid vaccine to the developing countries.

Addressing though video link (virtually) the 4th Session of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) Intergovernmental Group of Experts (IGE) on Financing for Development (FfD), the prime minister presented five-point agenda to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and stated that economic malaise and recession, like the coronavirus, is highly communicable.

Global policy measures, along the lines I have outlined, are urgently needed to save lives, revive economies, and build back better, he added. The prime minister said that the world now at present is grappling with a series of inter-linked and unprecedented public health and economic crises.

He added that the coronavirus does not discriminate between the rich and the poor, and the most vulnerable people and countries have suffered the most with millions are expected to fall back into poverty.

The prime minister said that in Pakistan, the government efforts have been aimed at ensuring to save people from dying from the virus, and at the same time preventing them from dying from hunger. The government strategy fortunately has worked well so far. But continuous efforts are needed to fully overcome the second wave of the virus but at the same time to maintain and stimulate economic growth.

The prime minister said that Covid-19 vaccines are now being administered in developed countries but it seems that it will take much longer time for the vaccine to fully cover the Global South.

Sustainable development will remain elusive as long as the pandemic persists, the prime minister added.

He further stated that developing countries are trapped between recovering from the pandemic and meeting their debt servicing obligations, and recounted that in April last year, he called for a “Global Initiative on debt relief” for creating fiscal space and reviving economic growth for developing countries.

The prime minister said that he was afraid that much more needed to be done on this account; otherwise, achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by the target date of 2030 will remain a daunting challenge.

The prime minister added that the pandemic also offers an opportunity to address the structural barriers hampering global prosperity and development and for this, he proposed a five-point agenda; (i) a viable framework for equitable and affordable supply of Covid vaccine to developing countries. The coverage of the COVAX facility must be expanded.

This would enable the developing countries to spend their precious resources on socio-economic development needs; (ii) additional debt relief by; (i) suspending debt re-payments for the most stressed countries until the end of the pandemic; and, (ii) restructuring of their public-sector debt under an agreed and inclusive multilateral framework; and; (ii) expanding concessional financing through multilateral development banks; (iii) a general allocation of Special Drawing Rights (SDRs) of US$500 billion to help alleviate balance-of-payment pressures; (iv) return of stolen assets held by corrupt politicians and criminals as the illicit financial outflows from developing nations cause more poverty in this world than any other factor with reportedly, a staggering amount of US$7 trillion is parked in “haven” destinations and it is also reported that one trillion dollars annually leaves the developing countries for these “haven” destinations; (v) meeting the agreed target of mobilising US$100 billion annually by developed countries for climate action in developing countries.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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