ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan delivered the opening statement at the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) Forum on Financing for Development (FfD) on Monday.

Pakistan is leading the four-day forum whose objective is to mobilise adequate financial support to enable the developing countries to recover from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the climate objectives. The special high-level segment of the ECOSOC Forum is being held in response to a decision of the UN General Assembly.

Prime Minister Imran Khan has been at the forefront of the international efforts to provide developing countries with the fiscal space and liquidity to respond to the current coronavirus induced economic recession. The Prime Minister advanced the “Global Initiative on Debt Relief” for developing countries in April 2020 and, in January he proposed a five-point financial action plan encompassing debt relief, creation and redistribution of Special Drawing Rights (SDRs) by the IMF, larger concessional assistance, mobilisation of climate finance, and end to illicit financial flows from the developing countries.

“It is a pleasure to make this opening statement at the Economic and Social Council’s Financing for Development Forum under Pakistan’s Presidency,” the premier opened his address to the dignitaries, including, President of the Economic and Social Council, Ambassador Munir Akram, President of the General Assembly, Volkan Bozkir, and Secretary-General of the United Nations, Antonio Guterres.

The PM discussed the impacts of the pandemic on the economy and also outlined the “smart-lockdown” policy that Pakistan implemented to successfully combat the first two waves of the virus. “The deliberations of the Forum this year are critical as the world battles the Coronavirus and its massive socio-economic fallout. Pakistan contained the first two waves of the virus through a policy of smart lockdowns. We implemented an 8 billion dollar relief package to support the poor and vulnerable and to keep our economy afloat at the same time,” he said.

He also raised the unequal access to vaccines for developing countries saying that the international community must ensure that the vaccine is available to everyone, everywhere, as soon as possible. “If not, the virus will roam around and come back. Production of the vaccine must be ramped up. Patent and technology-transfer restrictions should be waived to enable this,” he said, “Vaccine nationalism and export restrictions are deplorable; as is the use of the vaccine to advance national foreign policy objectives.”

He further commented that the forum is an important opportunity to adopt decisions on ways to mobilize the money needed by developing countries to recover from the COVID-induced recession and restore them on the path to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.

“In January of this year, at the UNCTAD meeting, I proposed a five-point agenda for emergency financial support to developing countries including debt relief and restructuring, SDR creation and redistribution, larger concessional finance, and an end to illicit financial flows from developing countries. I warmly welcome the proposal from the IMF Managing Director to create 650 billion dollars in new SDRs, and appreciate the support for this from the largest shareholders, including the U.S., China, the EU and Japan,” the premier said. 

He also expressed that the World Bank, IMF and other global financial institutions have the capacity to make concessions for developing countries.

“The IMF, the World Bank and other development banks now have an ample capacity to enlarge Developing countries should also be able to borrow from the markets at the prevailing low-interest rates which are available to developed countries. The liquidity and sustainability facility, proposed by the Economic Commission for Africa, could be one of the ways to achieve this,” he comments. 

He also outlined Pakistan’s environmental policies and commented that the current government has embarked on a programme to create a “green” Pakistan through reforestation, by planting 10 billion trees over the next three years, and introduction of renewable energy, electric vehicles and a moratorium on coal-burning power plants.

“The developed nations must fulfil their commitments under the Paris Agreement and mobilize 100 billion dollars annually in climate finance as they have promised. Fifty percent of this must be devoted to adaptation programs of developing countries,” he said. 

He said to the attendees that the United Nations is well placed to take the lead in formulating and coordinating the implementation of a plan to make the transition to a green global economy and expressed hope that the UN will create an inclusive, multi-stakeholder mechanism to do so.

“We are at a critical point in world history. The COVID pandemic has dramatically illustrated humanity’s oneness and interdependence. We must disavow power rivalries and geopolitical competition. We must opt for unconditional international cooperation. Together, we can – we must – construct a new, peaceful, equitable and sustainable world order,” he concluded his address.


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