PM seeks debt relief for poorer nations amid pandemic

Imran emphasised the need for collective national actions, regional collaboration and multilateral cooperation to meet adverse impacts of Covid-19

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan has urged the international community to extend debt relief to developing nations and facilitate their recovery from the Covid-19 crisis.

Addressing the virtual session of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UN-ESCAP) on Monday, the prime minister said that there is a dire need to mobilise adequate financing for poorer nations.

“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,” PM Khan said, adding that his administration was implementing fiscal reforms in Pakistan as well.

The prime minister emphasised the need for collective national actions, regional collaboration, and multilateral cooperation to meet adverse impacts of Covid-19. He suggested four key areas of focus to meet the challenge.

He said, “We have to put the people front and centre for pro-poor and inclusive policies and we need to strengthen public health and social protection systems. These have been the primary objectives for us in Pakistan.”

The prime minister said that 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 the situations of foreign occupation.

He said, “In building back, we have the opportunity to model our economies on more resilient and sustainable grounds.” He said ambitious climate action is a way ahead and Pakistan is accordingly implementing policies for green growth.

Imran said that there is a dire need to mobilise adequate financing for development. The prime minister said, “Only through enhanced regional and international cooperation, we can reopen safely and sustainably, starting with equitable access to affordable vaccines for all.”

The premier is among several heads of state, senior officials and stakeholders from the Asia-Pacific region participating in the 77th UN-ESCAP, which is being held virtually from April 26 to 29, to take stock of the socio-economic impact of Covid-19 and ramp up regional cooperation.

This is not the first time the premier has appealed to international stakeholders for urgent debt relief for developing countries to deal more effectively with the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic.

In April last year, he had said he was worried that people in the developing world would die of hunger due to the Covid-19 lockdowns. A few months later, in November, G20 nations had endorsed a plan to extend a freeze in official debt payments by poorer countries, including Pakistan, to mid-2021 and backed a common approach for dealing with debt issues.

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