ISLAMABAD: As the Pakistan government stepped up diplomatic efforts for initiating consultations at the United Nations for a collective action on debt relief for developing countries, Prime Minister Imran Khan on Thursday called on the rich countries to do more for fragile economies than just suspending debt servicing.
In a telephonic conversation with Egyptian President Abdel Fatteh Sisi, Mr Khan said that measures like debt suspension were helpful for struggling economies, but “more measures were needed to reboot the developing countries’ economies”.
According to a statement issued by the PM Office, Mr Khan had called Mr Sisi for discussing his call for a ‘Global Initiative on Debt Relief’ for developing countries.
He said countries with fragile economies were encountering “unprecedented” health and economic crisis.
In telephone talk with Sisi, PM says just suspension of debt servicing is not enough
The prime minister said people of these poorer countries were faced with the “stark choice” of dying due to coronavirus or hunger.
PM Khan had on April 12 launched an international appeal for debt relief. He had urged the world leaders to help developing countries in dealing with the impact of Covid-19 through debt relief and restructuring so that fiscal space could be created for them to carry out relief activities in their countries.
Pakistan later welcomed the debt relief measures announced by G20 countries, the International Monetary Fund and World Bank for developing countries. But, Mr Khan now says that these measures may free up resources, which were to be originally used for debt servicing, to deal with the crisis and its socio-economic impact, but developing countries would require more.
Mr Khan, in his conversation with Mr Sisi, called for closer collaboration to develop ‘a comprehensive plan’ for turning the crisis caused by Covid-19 into an opportunity for economic revival.
Mr Sisi, according to the statement, supported Mr Khan’s debt relief initiative.
Pakistan is convening a group of interested countries at the UN to commence consultations for proposing a comprehensive solution to the debt challenges of developing countries in the backdrop of Covid-19.
“The Prime Minister and Foreign Minister would be reaching out to a number of world leaders to discuss the need for a coordinated and comprehensive solution to the debt issue,” FO Spokesperson Aisha Farooqui said at the weekly media briefing.
Published in Dawn, May 1st, 2020