In address to UNCTAD meeting, Pakistan’s prime minister reiterates call for suspension of debt repayments to developing nations until pandemic over
Prime Minister Imran Khan on Monday urged the U.N. to expand the coverage of the World Health Organization’s COVAX facility, which aims to ensure rapid and equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines for all countries, to allow developing nations to spend their resources on socioeconomic development.
Addressing the fourth session of the U.N. Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) Intergovernmental Group of Experts on Financing for Development via video-link, he shared five key points to address structural barriers to global prosperity. Stressing that a viable framework for equitable and affordable supply of COVID-19 vaccines was essential, he also reiterated an appeal he had advanced last year for the suspension of debt repayments for the most stressed countries until the pandemic was over.
Commenting on Pakistan’s measures to combat COVID-19, Khan said Islamabad’s efforts were aimed at ensuring the protection of both lives and livelihoods. He claimed the strategy had proven largely successful, but warned that continuous efforts were needed to overcome the second wave of the virus.
The prime minister also proposed to the U.N. body to restructure public-sector debt of developing nations under a mutually agreeable, and inclusive multilateral framework. “Moreover, the expansion of concessional financing through multilateral development banks is also essential,” he said.
Khan called for the general allocation of Special Drawing Rights of $500 billion to help alleviate balance-of-payment pressures and reiterated his urging for the global community to implement measures to ensure the return of assets “stolen” from developing nations by “corrupt politicians and criminals.” He claimed that illicit financial outflows from developing nations had caused more poverty than any other factor.
“Reportedly, a staggering amount of $7 trillion is parked in ‘haven’ destinations. And it is also reported that $1 trillion annually leave the developing countries for these ‘haven’ destinations,” he said in his address.
The prime minister also addressed climate change, and urged developed nations to ensure they mobilized the previously agreed upon $100 billion for climate action in developing countries. He said economic recession was “highly communicable” like the coronavirus, adding that global policy measures such as those he had outlined were urgently needed to save lives and revive economies.
Khan concluded his address by thanking the UNCTAD secretary general for organizing the session, noting the world was currently grappling with a series of inter-linked and unprecedented public health and economic crises.
Apart from Khan, the conference was also addressed by Bolivia Vice-President David Choquehuanca, Spain’s Minister for Social Rights Pablo Iglesias Turrión, and Barbados Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley.