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Pakistan seeks debt suspension from global community till COVID-19 crisis ends

Cash-strapped Pakistan's economic woes have further worsened due to the coronavirus pandemic and Imran Khan's government is arranging finances from world bodies, including the International Monetary Fund

twitter-logoPTI | December 5, 2020 | Updated 12:43 IST
Pakistan seeks debt suspension from global community till COVID-19 crisis ends
Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan

Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan has requested the international community for debt suspension till the end of the coronavirus pandemic for low-income and most affected countries as well as cancellation of debt of least developed nations, according to a media report on Friday. Cash-strapped Pakistan's economic woes have further worsened due to the coronavirus pandemic and Khan's government is arranging finances from world bodies, including the International Monetary Fund, to tide over the crisis.

Presenting a 10-point agenda for urgent action before the UN General Assembly special session on Covid-19 on Thursday, Khan underlined the measures the international community needs to take to defeat the Covid-19 pandemic, the Dawn newspaper reported.

The first item on his list is a request for debt suspension till the end of the pandemic for low-income and most affected countries. The second one is "cancellation of debt of least developed countries" that are no longer in a position to repay their loans, it said.

Other items on the agenda include restructuring of the public sector debt of other developing countries under an agreed inclusive multilateral framework; a general allocation of special drawing rights of USD 500 billion; expanded concessional financing to lower income countries through multilateral development banks; and creation of a new 'liquidity and sustainability facility', which should provide short-term loans at lower costs.

The novel coronavirus has so far infected 410,072 people and claimed 8,260 lives in Pakistan. Addressing the session, Khan said the coronavirus pandemic is the most serious global crisis since the Second World War. Nearly 100 world leaders and several dozen ministers are participating in the two-day virtual UNGA special session that began on Thursday.

Pakistan's agenda also includes a reminder to rich nations to fulfill 0.7 per cent of their official development assistance commitments and mobilising the required USD 1.5 trillion annual investment in sustainable infrastructure. The prime minister also urged the international community to help meet the agreed target of mobilising USD 100 billion per year for climate action in developing countries, the report said.

Khan also called for immediate action to stop the massive illicit financial outflows from developing countries to rich countries, to offshore tax havens. He also suggested immediate return of assets stolen by corrupt politicians and criminals back to these countries.

Earlier in his opening remarks at the special session, UNGA President Volkan Bozkir said, "Today marks an overdue and much-needed moment of reckoning. None of us could have imagined, this time last year, what was to come." UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said "it is time to reset" the global response to crises like this. "As we build a strong recovery, we must seize the opportunity for change," he added. The deadly virus has infected nearly 65 million people across the world and killed close to 1.5 million.

Also read: Karnataka bandh today: What's open, what's closed

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