PM joins UN chief in seeking debt relief for developing nations

Published April 13, 2021
Prime Minister Imran Khan made the opening statement at a special segment of the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) in New York. — Photo courtesy: Radio Pakistan
Prime Minister Imran Khan made the opening statement at a special segment of the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) in New York. — Photo courtesy: Radio Pakistan

UNITED NATIONS: Prime Minister Imran Khan joined UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres on Monday in urging creditors to provide debt suspension, relief and liquidity to help developing nations cope with the negative economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The prime minister, who made the opening statement at a special segment of the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) in New York, underlined the “massive socio-economic fallout” of the pandemic and said: “Private creditors must participate in providing debt relief and restructuring.”

In his address to this special session on development financing, the UN chief also said: “The debt crisis needed to be properly addressed, including debt suspension, relief, and liquidity.” Mr Guterres called for “a paradigm shift” in aligning the private sector with the global goals to address future challenges.

The prime minister highlighted the need to mobilise funds “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”.

Deplores ‘vaccine nationalism’ and export restrictions

“An enormous push at the highest political level is needed to reverse dangerous trends, prevent successive waves of infection, avoid a lengthy global recession and get back on track to fulfil the 2030 agenda,” the UN chief added.

The president of the UN General Assembly, Volkan Bozkir, asked world leaders to “seize the opportunity of this crisis to effectively shift toward a more sustainable and resilient path, to demonstrate the strength and utility of the multilateral system, and to build a world that we will proudly pass down to future generations”.

PM Khan said Pakistan had already contained the first two waves of the virus through a policy of smart lockdowns but was “now unfortunately facing the third wave and hoped to defeat this wave as well. But to help developing nations fight back the virus, the international community must ensure that the vaccine is available to everyone, everywhere, as soon as possible”.

“Vaccine nationalism and export restrictions are deplorable; as is the use of the vaccine to advance national foreign policy objectives,” he added.

Earlier in January, Mr Khan at the UNCTAD meeting had proposed a five-point agenda for emergency financial support to developing countries, including debt relief and restructuring, Special Drawing Rights (SDR) creation and redistribution, larger concessional finance, and an end to illicit financial flows from developing countries.

Mr Khan noted that the Panel on Financial Accountability, Transparency and Integrity had proposed 14 recommendations to halt the outflow of trillions of dollars from developing countries. “These recommendations should be endorsed by the United Nations and all financial institutions. The stolen assets of developing countries must be returned immediately and more importantly unconditionally,” he said.

At the UN session, the prime minister also called for a moratorium on the exorbi­tant claims adjudicated against some dev­eloping countries in investment disputes.

Last year, an international tribunal granted a stay pending a final decision on a $5.8 billion penalty imposed on Pakistan for denying a mining lease to an Australian company.

Published in Dawn, April 13th, 2021

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