At the fourth session of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) held on Monday, Prime Minister Imran Khan highlighted the need for debt relief for countries strained by the pressure of the raging COVID-19 pandemic. 

The Prime Minister mentioned in his commencement speech to the UN conference in Geneva that developing countries were “stranded between coping from the pandemic and fulfilling their debt obligations.” He highlighted that millions of people are expected to sink below the poverty line in the middle of countries trying to keep afloat during these tough times. 

Countries around the world are dealing with a number of public health and economic problems that are intertwined and unparalleled. While the coronavirus does not differentiate between the wealthy and the weak, it has affected the vulnerable persons and nations the most, he added. 

In order to meet the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030, PM Imran emphasized that “far more needs to be done.” In developing nations, Covid-19 vaccines are already being provided, but it appears like it will take a lot longer for the vaccines to reach the Global South. “As long as the pandemic continues, economic sustainability will persist,” he stressed. 

The prime minister later continued to outline his five-point agenda, which he said will allow countries to solve the pandemic’s devastating consequences and improve their growth efforts. The following primary points are contained in the agenda: 

  • Creation of a feasible system for the fair and affordable distribution to developed countries of Covid vaccines  
  • Extra debt relief by delaying debt repayments for the most distressed countries until the end of the pandemic  
  • General allocation of $500 billions of exclusive drawing rights to help relieve the balance of payment burdens  
  • Return of stolen properties owned by corrupt and criminal officials 
  • Meeting the negotiated goal of organizing $100b annually for climate change in developing nations by developed nations 

Outlining Pakistan’s attempts to fight COVID-19, the Prime Minister said the government was concentrating on “saving people from dying from the virus and keeping them from dying from starvation at the same time.” 

By Sumbul Jawad

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