Prime Minister Imran Khan addressed the fourth session of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) today in which he emphasized need for debt relief for countries stressed by the burden of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
In his key note address to the UN conference in Geneva, the premier noted that developing countries were “trapped between recovering from the pandemic and meeting their debt servicing obligations.”
He pointed out that in the midst of countries struggling to stay afloat during these difficult times, millions of people were likely to fall below the poverty line.
“The world today is grappling with a series of interlinked and unprecedented public health and economic crises. While the coronavirus does not discriminate between the rich and the poor, the most vulnerable people and countries have suffered the most,” he stated.
PM Imran stressed that “much more needed to be done” in order to achieve the sustainable development goals (SDGs) by 2030.
“Covid-19 vaccines are now being administered in developed countries but it seems like it will take much longer for the vaccines to fully cover the Global South. Sustainable development will remain elusive as long as the pandemic persists,” he emphasized.
The prime minister then proceeded to present his five-point agenda which he said could help countries overcome the disastrous effects of the pandemic and bolster their efforts towards development.
The agenda includes the following key points:
- Creating a viable framework for equitable and affordable supply of Covid vaccines to developing countries
- Additional debt relief by suspending debt repayments for the most stressed countries until the end of the pandemic
- General allocation of special drawing rights of $500 billion to help alleviate the balance of payment pressures
- Return of stolen assets held by corrupt politicians and criminals
- Meeting the agreed target of mobilizing $100b annually by developed countries for climate action in developing countries
Highlighting Pakistan’s efforts to combat COVID-19, the premier said that the government was focused on “saving people from dying from the virus and at the same time, preventing them from dying from hunger”.
“Our strategy, fortunately, has worked well so far but continuous efforts are needed to fully overcome the second wave of the virus and also, at the same time to maintain and stimulate economic growth,” PM Imran Khan stated.