Prime Minister Imran Khan delivered the key note address at the fourth session of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) Intergovernmental Group of Experts (IGE) on Financing for Development (FfD) today.

In his address, the Prime Minister acknowledged a series of inter-linked and unprecedented public health and economic crises the world is facing today, and stated that the coronavirus has disproportionately targeted the most vulnerable people and countries, with millions likely to fall back into poverty.

“In Pakistan, our efforts have been aimed at ensuring that we save people from dying from the virus, and at the same time preventing them from dying from hunger,” Prime Minister Imran Khan said. “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.”

He said that while COVID-19 vaccines are now being administered in developed countries, it will take much longer for the vaccine to fully cover the Global South.

“Sustainable development will remain elusive as long as the pandemic persists. Developing countries are trapped between recovering from the pandemic and meeting their debt servicing obligations,” he said.

The Prime Minister stated that in April 2020, he called for a ‘Global Initiative on Debt Relief’ for creating fiscal space and reviving economic growth for developing countries, adding that “much more needs to be done on this account” if the Sustainable Development Goals are to be met by the target date of 2030.

To address the structural barriers hampering global prosperity and development, Prime Minister Imran Khan shared a five-point agenda with the conference.

Five-point agenda

The agenda proposed by Prime Minister Khan is as follows.

1. A viable framework for the equitable and affordable supply of COVID-19 vaccines to developing countries. The Prime Minister insisted on the coverage of the COVAX facility to be more expansive. This would enable developing countries to spend their precious resources on socio-economic development needs.

2. Additional debt relief by suspending debt re-payments for the most stressed countries until the end of the pandemic along with the restructuring of their public-sector debt under an agreed and inclusive multilateral framework; and expanding concessional financing through multilateral development banks.

3. A general allocation of Special Drawing Rights (SDRs) of 500 billion dollars to help alleviate balance-of-payment pressures.

4. Return of stolen assets held by corrupt politicians and criminals.

5. Meeting the agreed target of mobilizing 100 billion dollars annually by developed countries for climate action in developing countries.

“The illicit financial outflows from developing nations causes more poverty in this world than any other factor. Reportedly, a staggering amount of 7 trillion dollars is parked in ‘haven’ destinations,” the Prime Minister said.

“And it is also reported that one trillion dollars annually leaves the developing countries for these ‘haven’ destinations,” he added.

He concluded by saying that such global policy measures are urgently needed to “save lives, revive economies, and build back better.”


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