In this image made from UNTV video, Pakistan PM Imran Khan speaks in a pre-recorded message which was played during the UN General Assembly's special session to discuss the response to Covid-19 .(AP)
In this image made from UNTV video, Pakistan PM Imran Khan speaks in a pre-recorded message which was played during the UN General Assembly's special session to discuss the response to Covid-19 .(AP)

At UN Covid meet, cash-strapped Pak PM Imran Khan seeks debt relief

Addressing a session of the United Nations General Assembly on the response to the pandemic, Imran Khan pleaded on behalf of the developing countries for financial respite.
By Imtiaz Ahmad | Hindustan Times, Islamabad
UPDATED ON DEC 04, 2020 11:06 PM IST

Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan on Thursday called for debt forgiveness as he proposed a 10-point plan to save a number of developing countries from collapsing as a result of Covid-19 restrictions and lockdowns.

Addressing a session of the United Nations General Assembly on the response to the pandemic, Khan pleaded on behalf of the developing countries for financial respite.

“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,” the Pakistan prime minister said.

Khan told his audience that rich countries have injected $13 trillion as fiscal stimulus to revive their economies but the developing countries did not have that much resources. Pakistan, he said, is also committed under an IMF programme to reduce the budget deficit.

The Pakistan PM talked at length on the dangers developing countries faced and said that the effects of economies collapsing could be catastrophic. He also shared the losses the Pakistan economy has faced owing to the Covid pandemic.

The Pakistan PM said that his government’s strategy had worked for the first wave as they had imposed smart lockdowns. Owing to this, the daily wagers had not suffered unnecessarily. At the same time the Pakistan PM warned that the second wave had started to paralyse life in parts of Pakistan.

“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 $8 billion – which was almost 3% of our GDP – to support the poor and to keep the economy afloat at the same time,” he said.

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