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Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh has sought technical support from the UK government's Department for International Development (DFID) to combat the threat of swarm locust to standing crops and vegetation in Pakistan.

While acknowledging the role and support of the British government in the G20 initiative for loan deferment to poor countries in the wake of COVID-19 crisis, the adviser while talking to Anne Marie Trevelyan, Secretary of State DFID expressed the hope that the British government would use its influence at other similar forums for debt relief and debt deferment to the countries trying to fight the effects and devastation caused by the coronavirus. Pakistan is seeking deferment US$1.795 billion by the G20 countries till December 2010, according to an official this include deferment of $415.3 million liabilities by G20 countries for May-June 2020 with $415 million principal amount and $95.24 million interest payment on loan, and from July 2020 onward to December 2020 Pakistan's total debt liabilities to G20 have been worked out at $1380.14 million with principal amount of $1152.78 million, and interest payment of 227.36 million.

Total loan repayment due from May-December 2020 has been worked out by the Economic Affairs Division at $1795 million with $1472 million principal, and $322.06 million interest on the loans as the country's total debt stock of G20 countries was US$20,075 billion by the end of February 2020.

Shaikh also asked the DFID leadership to extend technical support to Pakistan to combat the threat of swarm locust to standing crops and vegetation in Pakistan.

Pakistan has been facing severe threat of locust in various parts of the country and the government has been facing challenge to protect the crops.

The adviser lauded the support of the DFID in various social sectors, particularly healthcare and education sectors in Pakistan, and asked the DFID leadership to extend technical support to Pakistan to combat the threat of swarm locust to standing crops and vegetation.

The adviser added the government is carefully trying to keep a balance between protecting the health of its citizens and the economy by opening only essential services and the sectors of the economy such as logistics, retail of essential items and construction where safely possible.

"We are also trying to get in the hands of the citizens businesses and as much liquidity as possible through direct cash transfers payment of tax refunds, subsidized credits and payroll loans and to ensure that the recovery path once the pandemic is over, is not affected," he further stated.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2020

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