Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Monday urged the international community to address the growing “unsustainable debt burden” of Least Developed Countries (LDCs).
Addressing the 5th United Nations conference on the LDCs in Doha, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif said that the earlier agreed upon Istanbul programme of action needs to be revisited. The Istanbul programme of action aims at overcoming the structural challenges of the LDCs through building their human and productive capacities.
Meanwhile, the Doha programme of action for the LDCs is a UN action plan to tap the full potential of the LDCs helping them make progress on the road to prosperity.
“Despite progress in some areas, implementation of the Istanbul program of action has remained insufficient and uneven. Only four countries were able to graduate out of the least developed status. In fact, the Least Developed Countries (LDCs) were victims of the pandemic of inequality, unavailability of vaccines, technologies, finance and opportunities,” said PM Shehbaz.
“Multiple crisis have taken a heavy toll on LDCs, their GDP growth has plummeted, international trade has shrunk, poverty and food insecurity has risen, and inequality has widened.
“Due to these factors developing countries like Pakistan have also suffered a severe setback to their developmental goals,” he said.
He said LDCs continue to be affected by the climate crisis and highlighted that they make up 14% of the global population but account for only 1.3% of the global GDP, 1% of the global trade and 1.4% of global FDI.
The PM expressed Pakistan’s full support and solidarity with developed countries for social progress and economic prosperity.
“As we move towards the implementation of the Doha program of action, Pakistan will continue to advocate several specific steps to advance sustainable development including in the LDCs.
“However meeting its ambitious targets will require revitalised global partnership based on effective means of implementation in the following priority areas,” said PM Shehbaz.
“First, we must address vaccine inequity through adequate and timely access to safe and effective vaccines for LDCs. Second, the historic commitment of ODA comprising 0.7% of the GNI of OECD countries must be fulfilled, of which 0.15 to 0.2% must be allocated to the LDCs.
“Third, we must address the increasingly unsustainable debt burden of many LDCs. It is a matter of great concern that 6 LDCs are classified as suffering from the debt burden, while 17 are at high risk of debt distress,” said the prime minister.
“Fourth, we must provide universal access to social protection in order to support the needy and vulnerable. Fifth, we also need to reform the unequal international financial architecture, make it people-centric and be designed to address the special needs and weaknesses of the LDCs.
“Lastly, an international technology compact aligned with the SDGs should be adopted, it should offer easy access to the developing countries to relevant advanced technologies to develop their productive capacities and bridge the digital divide,” said the premier.
PM Shehbaz lauded measures of the Doha action plan such as an online university, an international investment support centre and a system of food stocks for the LDCs.
“Pakistan will actively support the implementation of the Doha program of action including within the framework of South-South corporation,” concluded Shehbaz.