Friday, October 22, 2021

COVID-19 crisis: PM Imran Khan calls for ‘Global Initiative on Debt Relief’

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ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan has called for a ‘Global Initiative on Debt Relief’ for developing countries amid coronavirus crisis in order to ‘promote coordinated health and economic response’, ARY News reported on Sunday.

PM Imran Khan appealed the international community in a video message for taking an initiative on debt relief for the developing countries and also invited United Nations (UN) Secretary-General António Guterres to work with him in advancing the objectives of a coordinated response.

While noting that COVID-19 pandemic has posed unprecedented health and economic challenges, PM Khan underlined that a global recession was certain, one worse than the great depression. A global pandemic cannot be contained without strong, coordinated and well-crafted global response, he stressed.

“The Global Initiative on Debt Relief will bring together stakeholders on a platform to promote coordinated health and economic response.”

During the past week, various announcements have been made by multilateral actors such as the UN, the IMF, and the World Bank. The announcements made include initial relief packages of US $1.4 billion by the IMF, and US $1 billion by the World Bank.

The proposed initiative aims to lay ground for urgent debt relief to the developing countries, at their request, and without onerous conditionalities.

The initiative is built on PM Khan’s belief that enhanced fiscal capacity is fundamental to recovery from the ongoing pandemic crises. The premier cautioned that the pandemic’s socio-economic impacts would be more consequential in the developing countries.

In his call to the global leaders, Imran Khan highlighted that Pakistani government had provided a $8 billion stimulus package to help the most vulnerable people in the country.

Noting the UN secretary-general’s call for action, he also urged world leaders to step up measures to help developing countries to overcome disastrous impacts of COVID-19.

He proposed that the developing countries be provided with fiscal space and financial relief through enhanced debt relief and restructuring and other additional measures that could help them manage the unfolding crisis.

As part of his diplomatic outreach, PM Khan will be approaching heads of state, as well as government from a wide range of countries notably from Paris Club, Highly Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC), heads of international organizations and others concerned to join him in this endeavor.

Before making a call for a global initiative, the premier has entrusted the foreign minister and finance adviser to reach out to their respective counterparts to work for the debt relief with the objectives of relieving developing countries of the financial challenge from the COVID-19 pandemic and realizing sustainable development.

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