KARACHI: Pasban Democratic Party (PDP) chairman Altaf Shakoor here on Saturday said that the country should demand an urgent debt write-off to divert its meagre funds for rehabilitation of the millions of people affected by the worst climate change.

Quoting a report of Boston University, he said strong voices are being raised for writing off loans of the poor nations, as up to $520 billion in debt needs to be written off to help developing nations at greatest risk of default return to a sounder fiscal footing and meet climate and development goals.

The haircuts on debt owed to public and private creditors by 61 of the nations that are already in or are at most risk of debt distress are essential to avoid cascading defaults. “Without ambitious debt relief, many of the poorest countries don’t have a chance.”

The report says that research found a correlation between debt distress and climate vulnerability; a string of debt-distressed nations, including Pakistan, Ethiopia and Malawi, have recently battled concurrent extreme weather events that intensified pressure on public finances.

Altaf Shakoor wondered why the Pakistani government is not asking for an urgent debt relief whenever the research institutes of the Western world are busy in advocacy for debt write-off for the poor nations.

He said our political parties and courts are battling for election dates while the country is at the brink of default.

He asked that sanity must prevail and the most urgent issue of debt relief should be on the top agenda of government, political parties and other institutions.

He said Pakistan, currently tackling a major economic crisis, is grappling with high external debt, a weak local currency and dwindling foreign exchange reserves and as per a report of United States Institute of Peace (USIP) it needs to repay a whopping USD 77.5 billion in external debt from April 2023 to June 2026.

Altaf Shakoor demanded that our parliament should urgently summon a joint session to discuss the most urgent issue of debt relief and device a strategy how to fight the fit case of the country on world forums.

He said the IMF, World Bank and other lenders should be persuaded to write-off our loans and provide as much relief as possible to help the climate hit country to stand on its two feet.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2023

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