Prime Minister Imran Khan’s statement at Special UNGA’s Session on COVID-19

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PRESIDENT OF THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY, MR VOLKAN BOZKIR, DISTINGUISHED SECRETARY GENERAL,

EXCELLENCIES, LADIES AND GENTLEMEN,

I WOULD LIKE TO THANK HIS EXCELLENCY PRESIDENT ALIYEV OF AZERBAIJAN, CHAIRMAN OF THE NON-ALIGNED MOVEMENT, FOR PROPOSING THIS SPECIAL SESSION.

THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC IS THE MOST SERIOUS GLOBAL CRISIS SINCE THE SECOND WORLD WAR.

THE VIRUS HAS INFECTED NEARLY 65 MILLION PEOPLE AND KILLED SADLY CLOSE TO 1.5 MILLION.

AND HOPEFULLY WHENEVER THE VACCINE IS AVAILABLE, IT MUST BE OFFERED TO EVERYONE.

THE PANDEMIC HAS CAUSED IMMENSE HUMAN SUFFERING AND THE DEEPEST GLOBAL ECONOMIC CONTRACTION SINCE THE GREAT DEPRESSION OF THE 1930s.

THE POOREST COUNTRIES AND THE POOR IN ALL THE COUNTRIES ARE SUFFERING THE MOST.

NEARLY 100 MILLION PEOPLE IN DEVELOPING COUNTRIES WILL FALL BACK INTO EXTREME POVERTY.

RICH COUNTRIES HAVE INJECTED $13 TRILLION AS FISCAL STIMULUS TO REVIVE THEIR ECONOMIES.

ON THE OTHER HAND, DEVELOPING COUNTRIES JUST DO NOT HAVE THE RESOURCES TO AFFORD SUCH A MASSIVE ECONOMIC STIMULUS.

THEY ARE STRUGGLING TO FIND EVEN A FRACTION OF THE $ 2-3 TRILLION THEY REQUIRE TO RECOVER FROM THE PANDEMIC.

IN PAKISTAN, WE HAD A SUCCESSFUL POLICY OF “SMART LOCKDOWNS.”

OUR EFFORTS WERE AIMED AT ENSURING THAT NOT ONLY DO WE SAVE PEOPLE FROM THE VIRUS, BUT ALSO PREVENT THEM FROM DYING FROM HUNGER.

WE PROVIDED A RELIEF PACKAGE OF AROUND US$8 BILLION – WHICH WAS ALMOST 3% OF OUR GDP – TO SUPPORT THE POOR AND TO KEEP THE ECONOMY AFLOAT AT THE SAME TIME.

AND AS I SAID, SO FAR OUR STRATEGY HAS WORKED.

BUT NOW WE ARE CONFRONTED WITH A FAR MORE AGGRESSIVE SECOND WAVE OF THE VIRUS. WE ARE FACING NOW THE CHALLENGE OF MAINTAINING AND REVIVING OUR ECONOMIC GROWTH AS WELL AS DEALING WITH INCREASING NUMBER OF CASES WHICH ARE OCCUPYING OUR HOSPITAL BEDS. a

THE IMF MANAGING DIRECTOR HAS ADVISED COUNTRIES TO SPEND AS MUCH AS IT IS REQUIRED, TO STIMULATE GROWTH.

BUT, LIKE MANY DEVELOPING COUNTRIES, PAKISTAN IS COMMITTED UNDER OUR IMF PROGRAM TO REDUCE THE BUDGET DEFICIT.

AND I AM SURE OTHER DEVELOPING COUNTRIES IN OUR POSITION ARE FACING A SIMILAR DILEMMA. HOW TO STIMULATE THE ECONOMY AND YET AT THE SAME TIME REDUCE OUR BUDGET DEFICIT?

THE ONLY WAY WE CAN HAVE THE FISCAL SPACE TO MAINTAIN AND REVIVE GROWTH IS THROUGH ACCESS TO ADDITIONAL LIQUIDITY.

LAST APRIL, I CALLED FOR A “GLOBAL INITIATIVE ON DEBT RELIEF.” WE ARE GRATEFUL FOR THE DEBT SUSPENSION ANNOUNCED BY G-20 IN MAY, AND ITS SUBSEQUENT EXTENSION TILL JUNE NEXT YEAR.

WE ALSO APPRECIATE THE RAPID LENDING FACILITIES ACTIVATED BY IMF AND THE WORLD BANK.

YET, THE AMOUNTS GENERATED SO FAR ARE NOT EVEN CLOSE TO THE NEEDS OF THE DEVELOPING COUNTRIES TO RECOVER FROM THE IMPACT OF THE PANDEMIC.

AS FAR AS I KNOW, FIVE DEVELOPING COUNTRIES HAVE ALREADY DEFAULTED ON THEIR DEBT, AND IT SEEMS OTHERS ARE ABOUT TO FOLLOW.

SEVERAL NATIONS, FACED WITH LARGE DEBT REPAYMENTS AND AT THE SAME TIME LOST REVENUES, ARE ON THE BRINK OF ECONOMIC COLLAPSE.

THERE ARE DISTURBING REPORTS FROM THE WORLD FOOD PROGRAMME OF POSSIBLE FAMINES IN SOME PARTS OF THE WORLD.

THE ‘FINANCING FOR DEVELOPMENT’ DISCUSSIONS INITIATED BY THE SECRETARY GENERAL AND THE PRIME MINISTERS OF CANADA AND JAMAICA HAVE IDENTIFIED HUNDREDS OF OPTIONS TO FINANCIALLY SUPPORT THE DEVELOPING COUNTRIES.

WE HOPE THAT THIS PROCESS CULMINATES IN SOME CONCRETE ACTIONS SOON.

THERE IS A NEED TO REFORM THE INTERNATIONAL FINANCIAL ARCHITECTURE; BUILD AN INCLUSIVE AND EQUITABLE DEBT MANAGEMENT MECHANISM; CONSTRUCT A DEMOCRATIC; SDG-FOCUSED TRADING SYSTEM; AND INSTALL A FAIR INTERNATIONAL TAX REGIME.

IF ECONOMIC COLLAPSE IS TO BE AVERTED IN A NUMBER OF DEVELOPING COUNTRIES DUE TO THE COVID-19, THE INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY MUST IDENTIFY AND IMPLEMENT SOME KEY PRIORITY ACTIONS.

I WOULD LIKE TO PROPOSE A TEN-POINT AGENDA FOR URGENT ACTION:

ONE, DEBT SUSPENSION TILL THE END OF THE PANDEMIC FOR LOW INCOME AND MOST STRESSED COUNTRIES;

TWO, CANCELLATION OF DEBT OF LEAST DEVELOPED COUNTRIES;

THREE, RESTRUCTURING OF THE PUBLIC SECTOR DEBT OF OTHER DEVELOPING COUNTRIES UNDER AN AGREED INCLUSIVE MULTILATERAL FRAMEWORK;

FOUR, A GENERAL ALLOCATION OF SPECIAL DRAWING RIGHTS OF $500 BILLION;

FIVE, EXPANDED CONCESSIONAL FINANCING TO LOWER INCOME COUNTRIES THROUGH MULTILATERAL DEVELOPMENT BANKS;

SIX, CREATION OF A NEW ‘LIQUIDITY AND SUSTAINABILITY FACILITY’, WHICH SHOULD PROVIDE SHORT TERM LOANS AT LOWER COSTS;

SEVEN, FULFILMENT OF THE 0.7 % OFFICIAL DEVELOPMENT ASSISTANCE COMMITMENTS;

EIGHT, MOBILIZING THE REQUIRED $1.5 TRILLION ANNUAL INVESTMENT IN SUSTAINABLE INFRASTRUCTURE;

NINE, ACHIEVEMENT OF THE AGREED TARGET OF MOBILIZING $100 BILLION PER YEAR FOR CLIMATE ACTION IN DEVELOPING COUNTRIES, AND

TEN, IMMEDIATE ACTION TO STOP THE MASSIVE ILLICIT FINANCIAL OUTFLOWS FROM DEVELOPING COUNTRIES TO RICH COUNTRIES, TO OFFSHORE TAX HAVENS AND AT THE SAME TIME, IMMEDIATE RETURN OF THEIR ASSETS STOLEN BY CORRUPT POLITICIANS AND CRIMINALS BACK TO THESE COUNTRIES.

THIS ONE ACTION I ASSURE YOU MR. PRESIDENT WOULD BENEFIT THE POOR COUNTRIES MORE THAN ALL OTHER MEASURES PUT TOGETHER.

EXCELLENCIES,

EVERYONE AGREES THAT THERE HAS TO BE A COLLECTIVE RESPONSE TO RECOVER FROM THE COVID CRISIS, AND AT THE SAME TIME, ACHIEVE SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT GOALS, AND IMPLEMENT TARGETS SET BY THE PARIS AGREEMENT.

EXCELLENCIES,

THE UN CHARTER’S CONCEPT OF “COLLECTIVE SECURITY” EMBRACES “COLLECTIVE ECONOMIC SECURITY”.

WITHOUT ECONOMIC SECURITY, CONFLICTS AND DISPUTES WILL PERSIST AND PROLIFERATE ACROSS THE WORLD.

GUIDED BY THE PRINCIPLES OF THIS CHARTER, WE MUST ALL WORK COLLECTIVELY FOR AN INCLUSIVE, STABLE AND SUSTAINABLE ECONOMIC, SOCIAL AND POLITICAL ORDER.

I THANK YOU.

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