PM’s forceful presentation

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PRIME Minister Imran Khan lived up to his reputation of an articulate speaker by making a forceful presentation during online session of the World Economic Forum (WEF) ‘Covid Action Platform’ on Wednesday on Corona-related challenges facing the developing world and the need for meaningful debt relief for enabling them to cope with the situation effectively. He said a large number of developing countries did not have fiscal space to deal with the economic fallout of the Covid-19 outbreak and they need assistance so that they could divert resources to healthcare and environment.
The Prime Minister seemed to have done his homework diligently as he presented case of Pakistan and that of the developing world along with facts and figures and tried to sensitize the developed countries to take concrete steps for debt relief. He pointed out that G-20 countries were coming up with a debt relief initiative but more details were needed as there was still no clarity about the mode, quantum and duration of relief. There are reports of a moratorium on debt repayments till December 2020 but what the developing countries need is debt waiver to enable them to allocate their scarce resources for relief and rehabilitation of the virus-affected families and different sectors of the economy. A moratorium and that too for a few months is unlikely to mitigate their woes as the world is still struggling to tackle the virus, which is on the rise in many countries, and no one knows for how long the challenge would remain there. As highlighted by Imran Khan, due to limited resources the developing countries faced a dual challenge — combating the pandemic and dealing with poverty. It was in the backdrop of this dilemma that Pakistan Government had to make a decision to lift Corona-related restrictions at a time when the number of infected persons and deaths was increasing in the country. The Prime Minister also shared the country’s experience with the world community by pointing out that a cash disbursement programme was launched on a war-footing to provide relief to the poor families but this was a stop-gap arrangement and not a permanent solution as the Government has not enough resources to continue the programme during entire duration of the virus. We hope that like Prime Minister Imran Khan, other leaders of the developing countries would also raise the issue of debt relief at all available forums and the UN would play its lead role in evolving an effective plan in this regard.