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ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan has emphasised the need to mobilise adequate financing for development to mitigate the unprecedented global crisis unleashed by the Covid-19, and suggested four key areas for focus with equitable access to affordable vaccines for all.

The prime minister, in his virtual address at the opening Segment of the 77th Session of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP), said the world was in the mid of a global crisis of the Covid-19 pandemic after witnessing its devastating health and socio-economic impacts all around the world, with Asia and the Pacific also bearing the brunt.

The premier added that pre-existing vulnerabilities and inequalities had become even more acute. “We are now lagging further behind in achieving the SDGs than ever before. Over 100 million people will fall back into extreme poverty.”

He said it might take years to regain the pre-Covid income levels. “Varying financial capacities, health care and vaccine rollout may lead to uneven recovery among countries and regions. We must ensure that no one is left behind. That requires international solidarity.

“We need the right mix of national actions, regional collaboration, and multilateral cooperation,” added the prime minister. The premier has also suggested four key areas of focus which included; (i) we have to put the people front and centre for pro-poor and inclusive policies. We need to strengthen public health and social protection systems. These have been the primary objectives for us in Pakistan. People-centred economic security is now at the core of our development paradigm; (ii) peace and development must be anchored in human rights, which should be upheld and protected universally.

The international community needs to pay special attention to situations of foreign occupation; (iii) in building back we have the opportunity to model our economies on more resilient and sustainable grounds.

Ambitious climate action is a way ahead. Pakistan is accordingly implementing policies for green growth; (iv) there is a dire need to mobilise adequate financing for development.

For the developing countries, the debt issue must be addressed in a fair and sustainable manner.

With my “Global Initiative on Debt Relief”, Pakistan has been advocating this cause on all world forums, he said.

“At home, we are implementing corresponding fiscal reforms,” the prime minister said.

He said the bigger question was as to what mechanisms could be helpful in achieving these ambitious goals.

“We all want to reinvigorate our economies and build back better. But we cannot do that in isolation and only through enhanced regional and international cooperation can we reopen safely and sustainably, starting with equitable access to affordable vaccines for all,” added the prime minister.

He said “we have to think in the long term, keeping in mind the best interest of future generations. Pakistan has shifted its focus from geo-politics to geo-economics and is ready to join hands for win-win outcomes”.

“Our success lies in cooperative multilateralism and partnerships. Let Asia-Pacific take the lead. Pakistan is willing to work with all members to advance our shared objectives,” the prime minister added.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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