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UNCTAD Address: PM Imran Proposes Equitable Covid Vaccine Supply for Global Prosperity


ISLAMABAD–  Prime Minister Imran Khan Monday presented a five-point agenda to address the structural barriers in global prosperity, proposing equitable
supply of COVID vaccine to developing countries and suspension of debt repayments for most stressed countries until end of pandemic.

The prime minister, in his keynote address at the fourth session of virtually held United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) Intergovernmental Group of Experts (IGE) on
Financing for Development (FfD) in Geneva, called for a viable framework for equitable and affordable supply of COVID vaccine to developing countries.

“The coverage of the COVAX facility must be expanded. This
would enable the developing countries to spend their precious
resources on socio-economic development needs,” he said.

Calling the pandemic an opportunity to address the
structural barriers hampering global prosperity and development, he
suggested the suspension of debt re-payments for the most stressed
countries until the end of the pandemic and restructuring of their
public-sector debt under an agreed and inclusive multilateral

Moreover, the expansion of concessional financing through
multilateral development banks was also essential, he emphasized.

Prime Minister Imran Khan called for a general allocation
of Special Drawing Rights (SDRs) of  US $ 500 billion  to help
alleviate balance-of-payment pressures.

Reiterating his decades old stance of return of stolen
assets held by corrupt politicians and criminals in foreign countries,
the prime minister viewed that the illicit financial outflows from
developing nations caused more poverty in that world than any other

“Reportedly, a staggering amount of US $ 7 trillion  is
parked in “haven” destinations. And it is also reported that one
trillion dollars annually leaves the developing countries for these
“haven” destinations,” he told the meeting also addressed by prime
minister of Barbados, vice president of Plurinational State of
Bolivia, and second vice president of Government of Spain.

The fifth point of the proposed agenda was meeting the
agreed target of mobilizing 100 billion dollars annually by developed
countries for climate action in developing countries.

Terming the economic malaise and recession “highly
communicable” like the coronavirus, Prime Minister Khan said the
global policy measures, along his proposed lines were urgently needed
to save lives, revive economies, and build back better.

He thanked the UNCTAD Secretary-General for organizing the
“extremely important” and said the world was grappling with a series
of inter-linked and unprecedented public health and economic crises.

He said as the coronavirus did not discriminate between
the rich and the poor, the most vulnerable people and countries had
suffered the most.

“Millions are likely to fall back into poverty,” he feared.

He told the meeting that Pakistan’s efforts had been aimed
at ensuring their protection from both COVID-related as well as
hunger-related deaths.

“Our strategy fortunately has worked well so far. But
continuous efforts are needed to fully overcome the second wave of the
virus. And also at the same time to maintain and stimulate economic
growth,” the prime minister said.

He said the COVID-19 vaccines were now being administered
in developed countries but seemed that it will take much longer time
for the vaccine to fully cover the global South.

He viewed that the sustainable development would remain
elusive as long as the pandemic persisted. Developing countries are
trapped between recovering from the pandemic and meeting their debt
servicing obligations, he added.

He said in April last year, he had called for a ‘Global
Initiative on Debt Relief’ for creating fiscal space and reviving
economic growth for developing countries.

“But I am afraid much more needs to be done on this
account. Otherwise, achieving the Sustainable Development Goals by the
target date of 2030 will remain a daunting challenge,” he remarked.