Prime Minister Imran Khan on Tuesday called upon the developed countries to mobilise adequate financial resources to enable developing countries meet the triple challenge of Covid-19 recovery, implementation of sustainable development goals (SDGs) and realisation of environmental objectives.
Delivering a keynote address at the United Nations High Level Political Forum (HLPF) on Sustainable Development through a video message, Imran Khan said there were synergies in the three challenges which should be utilised to "build back better".
“The high income countries have been able to inject $70 trillion to stimulate their economies. While developing countries on the other hand are estimated to need at least $4.3tr to come out of their crisis and implement this. They have unfortunately so far secured less than 5pc access of this amount,” he regretted.
He recalled that he had proposed the creation of new IMF special drawing rights as an effective way to generate development financing, adding that it was essential that high income countries voluntarily reallocate part of their unutilised IMF quota and this should be approved urgently.
He said he hoped at least $150 billion will be reallocated to finance sustainable development projects in developing countries through the IMF, World Bank and other financial institutions. “The restructuring of high cost debt is another essential instrument to provide fiscal space in development finance for the affected developing countries,” he added.
He highlighted that any common framework for debt restructuring should not involve protracted negotiations that would defeat the purpose of debt relief. At this critical time, he remarked, commitments made to provide concession and grant finance to developing countries, including 0.7 per cent official development assistance (ODA) commitment and the advance window of $50bn must be fulfilled.
“Similarly, fulfilment of the commitment made by developed countries to provide $100bn by year in climate finance is vital, including for the success of the COP-26 in Glasgow.”
The prime minister said the accumulated climate finance commitment was now more than $1tr. “The amount offered for development, cooperation, including ODA cannot be double counted as part of the climate finance commitment, at least 50pc of the climate finance should be allocated for adaptation”.
He said this assistance would enable developing countries implement their climate commitments in accordance with common but differentiated responsibilities.
He added that Pakistan's landmark projects such as Billion Tree Tsunami project could benefit greatly from such support.
The premier said national and international development strategies should target sectors to enable developing countries to respond to the triple challenge. “These include Covid recovery, human development and social protection, renewable energy, sustainable agriculture, climate change and digitalisation,” he added.
Imran said investment in sustainable infrastructure which impacted 92pc of the SDGs must be made a central part of development strategies. He said that the UN should initiate a multi-stakeholder dialogue to mobilise $1tr investment required annually in sustainable infrastructure.
“Moreover UN development system including the SDG investment fare can make a vital contribution in enabling developing countries to propose viable projects that can attract public and private investment.”
‘Fair vaccine distribution’
Highlighting the Covid-19 impacts and ways to deal with its ramifications, he said universal and affordable access to Covid-19 vaccines was essential to defeat the virus and revive global trade investment and growth.
“The world must accelerate vaccine production including in the developing countries and ensure its rapid distribution. While there is support offered by some major nations, but more needs to be done. A vital urgency is the waiver of intellectual property rights even if temporary,” he said.
The premier added that vaccine production under license, full funding of Covax facility and provision of grants and concessional ending will enable developing countries to purchase vaccines at fair prices.
He commended the United Nations for containing the Covid-19 pandemic, the reversal of economic progress and the existential threat posed by climate change.
The premier said Pakistan had been more fortunate than other countries through its policies of smart lockdowns.
“We managed to save precious lives and at the same time, livelihoods. I appreciate the international recognition of our pandemic containment strategy and our Ehsaas social protection programme,” he maintained.
He added that his government was now making all possible efforts to speed up the vaccination campaign.
Empowering developing nations
The prime minister emphasised that structural and systemic deficiencies of the international financial and trade architechture needed to be addressed comprehensively and urgently.
He said the international trade regime must provide all developing countries with equitable and preferential access to global markets.
“Protectionist measures erected by some major economies and violation of the WTO agreements must be rescinded,” he said, adding that the vast amount of illicit finance which flow out of the developing countries must be halted.
He called for returning of stolen assets to developing countries unconditionally. The premier also welcomed the US proposal for a minimum global corporate tax to prevent profit shifting and tax evasion.
He underlined that the Covid-19 pandemic had revealed the essential unity of humanity and close inter-dependence of nation.
This crisis should crystalise awareness of the immutable importance of the principles and purpose of the UN charter, he said. “We must focus on peaceful and just resolution of disputes and promote international cooperation for building a more equitable, stable and prosperous world."