Prime Minister Imran Khan on Thursday reiterated his call for developed countries to augment aid given to poorer nations as they battle the coronavirus pandemic amid downward-spiralling economic conditions.
The premier participated in a high-level virtual event on Financing for Development (FFD) focused on the ‘Era of COVID-19 and Beyond’.
The prime minister stressed that the pandemic is a “global problem” and one that will require a “global solution”.
He said that when the lockdown in Pakistan was enforced, “everything came to a standstill, as it did in most economies of the world” that were striving to curb the virus’ spread.
Speaking of those worst-hit by the outbreak in Pakistan, said that almost 150 million people are “vulnerable”. He said these are daily wage workers whose families were reliant on the earnings to feed themselves.
“We doled out $8bn to stabilise our economy and to give cash to our most vulnerable section of society,” said the premier, describing what he termed “one of the biggest cash handout programmes in history”.
“But the problem is we have falling exports, falling remittance, big, ambitious plans to revive the tourism sector — all of which took a nosedive.”
The event, which was hosted by Canadian and Jamaican premiers along with the UN secretary-general, was attended by a select number of heads of state and governments who have also been invited to address the high-level meeting.
The presidents of France, South Africa, Kazakhstan and the prime ministers of UK, Japan, Norway, Italy and Ireland, the German Chancellor and the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, will address the high-level event.
The debt vulnerability of developing countries will be one of the six interlinked financial issues to be discussed at the event.
“The invitation extended to the prime minister reflects the recognition of his role as a sincere spokesperson for the developing countries and the timeline of his call for collective action to overcome the debt distress of many developing countries,” the Foreign Office said.
“This recognition has enabled Pakistan to bring together a credible group of countries, including the largest economic powers to address the debt issue.”
The Foreign Office added the prime minister’s leading role in advancing solutions to the vital issues of debt, liquidity, investment and sustainable development will greatly enhance the prospects for Pakistan and other developing countries to secure the international support, solidarity and cooperation needed to ensure a rapid recovery from the most serious recession the world has faced since the Great Depression a century ago.