Islamabad:Prime Minister Imran Khan while stressing the need of dealing with the economic problems caused by the COVID-19 pandemic holistically as a global issue on Thursday the 28th May, said the world would not recover from recession without helping the developing countries. Unless the problem is dealt with holistically as a global problem with global solution, the world is not going to recover from this recession if bigger part of the world population is fallen in poverty, he maintained.
The prime minister expressed these views while addressing the virtual 'High-Level Event on Financing for Development (FFD) in Era of COVID-19 and Beyond' hosted by the prime ministers of Canada and Jamaica, and the United Nations secretary general. A select number of heads of state and government were invited to address the high-level meeting.
PM Imran Khan, while sharing his vision on possible ways to address the debt issue and the enormous financial challenges facing the developing countries, said it was a global issue and a global problem, which needed global solution. It was very important for the world now, which became very insular when the COVID-19 hit them, that it looked at the whole issue globally.
Pleading for the help of developed countries to the developing nations, the prime minister also mentioned the huge 6 billion people population in the developing countries as against the developed world which had 1.5 billion people. 'So all I want to say is that it is very important for the developed world at this critical juncture to look after the people of developing countries, who are struggling,' he added.
Talking about the problems of Pakistan vis-a-vis COVID-19, the prime minister said when the coronavirus hit the country, they did lockdown and everything came to a standstill like other economies of the world, which were also trying to cope with the situation and stopping the spread of the pandemic. 'And when everything came to a standstill the biggest issue for us was how to look after the most vulnerable section of our population and the people affected in non-formal sector of our economy,' he added.
PM Imran Khan said out of the 220 million population of Pakistan, the vulnerable section of the society was almost 150 million people, including those from the non-formal sector, daily-wagers and weekly wagers whose families were dependent upon them and their earnings so that they could eat.
He referred to the government's $ 8 billion stimulus package and said, 'So we then started this big cash handout, one of the biggest programmes in Pakistan's history'. 'We doled out US $ 8 billion to stimulate our economy and give cash to the most vulnerable section in our society,' he added.
The prime minister, however, added that but the problem was the decrease in exports and remittances. We were also trying to pick our ambitious tourism sector, and I know this was the problem which most of the countries and more specifically the developing countries were facing. He said the total amount of stimulus they could afford and managed to get to the economy, which was the biggest-ever stimulus in their history, was to give $ 8 billion.
In comparison, he added, the developed world had given an estimated US $ 7 trillion to stimulate their economies. The United States was giving $ 3 trillion stimulus, Germany 1 trillion Euros and Japan $ 1 trillion, he mentioned. And when you compare it with the developing countries, unfortunately we don't have fiscal space to revive our economies, to look after the most vulnerable section of society.
In case of Pakistan, the prime minister said they still had the huge ambitious programme of fighting the climate change by planting 10 billion trees. So, all money got diverted into dealing with the impact of coronavirus lockdown, he added.
The prime minister said he spoke to the prime minister of Ethiopia, the president of Egypt and the prime minister of Nigeria and all of them were also facing the similar problems.
He welcomed the G-20 for taking the big initiative of giving debt relief to the developing countries. But this stimulus, this help to the developing world I am afraid has to be much bigger than so far it has been given, he added. The prime minister congratulated the UN Secretary General, and the prime ministers of Canada and Jamaica for the initiative of high level event and urged them to continue to pursue.
PM Imran Khan expressed his belief that if the developed countries put their minds together and treat the issue as a global situation, they would come out of it unscathed. Right now things look weak, but I think if we deal it as a global issue, the world will come out of it, he maintained.