PM Khan proposes equitable COVID-19 vaccine supply in UN address
Prime Minister Imran Khan has called for devising a viable framework for an equitable and affordable supply of Covid-19 vaccine to developing countries.
Addressing virtually the 4th Session of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development Intergovernmental Group of Experts on Financing for Development on Monday, the Prime Minister said coverage of the COVAX facility must be expanded enabling the developing countries to spend their precious resources on socio-economic development needs.
Suggesting a five-point framework to fight the pandemic and recovering economies, he said debt re-payments for the most stressed countries should be suspended until the end of the pandemic.
Calling the pandemic an opportunity to address the structural barriers hampering global prosperity and development, he suggested the suspension of debt repayments for the most stressed countries until the end of the pandemic and restructuring of their public-sector debt under an agreed and inclusive multilateral framework.
He said the expansion of concessional financing through multilateral development banks was also essential.
Premier Khan called for a general allocation of Special Drawing Rights (SDRs) of 500 billion dollars to help alleviate balance-of-payment pressures.
Reiterating his decades-old stance of return of stolen assets held by corrupt politicians and criminals, the prime minister viewed that the illicit financial outflows from developing nations caused more poverty in that world than any other factor.
“Reportedly, a staggering amount of 7 trillion dollars is parked in “haven” destinations. And it is also reported that one trillion dollars annually leave the developing countries for these “haven” destinations,” he told the meeting that was 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 interlinked 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,” Khan 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 a much longer time for the vaccine to fully cover the global South.
He viewed that 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.