Prime Minister Imran Khan has urged the countries producing vaccines for coronavirus to increase production and ensure rapid distribution to all, including developing countries.

“While the support offered by some major nations is commendable, more needs to be done,” he said during his address to the United Nations High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development 2021 on Tuesday.

Prime Minister Imran said that the world has been facing “three unprecedented challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic; the reversal of economic progress; and the existential threat posed by climate change.2

He was all praise for the “excellent role” played by UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres and “the entire UN system’s relief and recovery efforts in the wake of the pandemic”.

Speaking of Pakistan’s efforts to fight COVID-19, the prime minister said ‘smart lockdowns’ and focus on the disadvantaged, “we have been able to somehow contain the spread of virus. We managed to save precious lives and at the same time livelihoods.”

The prime minister appreciated the international recognition of Pakistan’s pandemic containment strategy and the Ehsaas social protection programme.

“We are now making all possible efforts to accelerate our vaccination campaign,” he said.

He said that unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic had “revealed and accentuated the endemic inequalities which exist within and amongst nations”.

“The global economy will not recover fully until all countries — rich and poor — are enabled to accelerate and expand investment for achieving the SDGs (sustainable development goals) and climate goals,” he continued.

Prime Minister Imran said that it is “essential” that universal and affordable access to COVID-19 vaccines be ensured “to defeat the virus and to revive global trade, investment and growth”.

“The world must ramp up vaccine production, including in the developing countries, and ensure its rapid distribution. While the support offered by some major nations is commendable, more needs to be done,” he stressed.

The prime minister outlined the following as items of “vital urgency”:

  • The waiver of intellectual property rights, even if temporary;
  • Vaccine production under license;
  • Full funding of the COVAX facility; and
  • Provision of grants and concessional lending to enable developing countries to purchase vaccines at fair prices.

He said that what is also needed is the mobilisation of adequate finance “to enable the developing countries to meet the triple challenge of COVID recovery, SDG implementation and realisation of environmental goals”.

The premier said that the rich countries have been able to inject $17 trillion to stimulate their economies, but others are still struggling.

“The developing countries […] are estimated to need at least $4.3 trillion to recover from the crises and implement the SDGs. They have so far, unfortunately, secured access to less than 5% of this amount,” he added.

The prime minister reminded the forum that last September, he had suggested the creation of new IMF Special Drawing Rights “as an effective way to generate development financing”.

“I welcome the agreement to create $650 billion in new SDRs. Yet, the additional reserves created for the poorest countries will not provide anywhere close to the magnitude of financial relief they require,” he stressed.

“It is, therefore, essential that the proposal of the IMF Director-General, that the high-income countries voluntarily re-allocate a part of their unutilised IMF quotas, be approved urgently,” the prime minister said.

He expressed the hope that “at least $150 billion will be re-allocated to finance sustainable development projects and programmes in developing countries” through the IMF, World Bank and other development banks and institutions.

The prime minister also shed light on how the restructuring of high-cost debt is “another essential instrument to provide fiscal space and development finance for the affected developing countries”.

He warned however that any “common framework” for debt restructuring “should not involve protracted negotiations that would defeat the purpose of debt relief”.

“At this critical time, commitments made to provide concessional and grant finance to developing countries, including the 0.7 percent ODA commitment, and the advanced IDA-20 window of $50 billion, must be fulfilled,” PM Imran Khan said.

He further called for the fulfilment of the “commitment made by developed countries to provide $100 billion per year in climate finance”, which he said is “vital, including for the success of COP-26 in Glasgow”.

The prime minister said that the accumulated climate finance commitment “now amounts to over $1 trillion”.

“The amounts offered for development cooperation, including ODA, cannot be double-counted as part of the climate finance commitment,” he said.

PM Imran Khan stressed that at least, 50 percent of climate finance should be allocated for adaptation.

It would enable developing countries to implement their climate commitments in accordance with the principle of “common but differentiated responsibilities,” he said.

“Pakistan’s landmark projects such as our ‘Recharge’ initiative and 10 Billion Tree Tsunami project can benefit greatly from such support,” he added.

The prime minister said that national and international development strategies “should target sectors that enable developing countries to respond to the triple challenge”.

These include:

  • COVID recovery;
  • Human development;
  • Social protection;
  • Renewable energy;
  • Sustainable agriculture;
  • Climate change; and
  • Digitalisation.

He said that investment in sustainable infrastructure which impacts 92 percent of the SDGs “must be a central part of development strategies”.

“The UN — with its unique convening power — should initiate a multi-stakeholder dialogue to mobilise the $1 trillion investment required annually in sustainable infrastructure,” the premier suggested.

“Moreover, the UN development system, including the SDG Investment Fair, can make a vital contribution in enabling developing countries to propose viable projects that can attract public and private investment,” he added.

The premier said that the “structural and systemic deficiencies of the international financial and trade architecture need to be addressed comprehensively and urgently”.

“The international trade regime must provide all developing countries with equitable and preferential access to global markets,” he said, adding: “Protectionist measures erected by some major economies in violation of WTO agreements must be rescinded.”

The premier reiterated his demand for vast amounts of illicit finance which flow out of the developing countries to be halted and for their stolen assets to be returned unconditionally.

He said the 14 recommendations of the FACTI Panel “need to be endorsed and implemented”.

“I welcome the US proposal for a minimum global corporate tax to prevent profit shifting and tax evasion,” the prime minister said.

The prime minister stressed that we must “focus on peaceful and just resolution of disputes and promote international cooperation for building a more equitable, stable and prosperous world”.


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