PM Imran appeals to global institutions for debt relief to combat coronavirus


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ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Sunday appealed to world leaders, heads of financial institutions, and United Nations to “launch an initiative that will give debt relief to developing countries to combat the coronavirus”.

During a live televised address, PM Imran said his appeal came on the back of developing countries’ problems, such as high debt-to-GDP ratio, which Pakistan also faces. He said that his primary concern was that the poor people should not die of hunger due to the lockdowns to contain the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Apart from containing the virus and dealing with the economic crisis, our biggest worry now is the people dying of hunger,” he said. “The dilemma on one side [is] stopping the people dying from the virus [and] on the other hand, preventing deaths from hunger as a result of the lockdown.”

The premier said another problem the developing world faces is “a huge discrepancy in the resources available” to the developing and developed nations.

While the United States, Germany, and Japan have come up with relief packages of $2.2 trillion, €1 trillion, and $1 trillion, respectively, the maximum stimulus we could afford for a population of 220 million is $8 billion, he said.

“This is the issue with most of the developing world, especially the developing world that’s suffering from a very high debt-to-GDP ratio,” PM Imran added, noting that “these highly-indebted countries” now face the problem of a lack of fiscal space.

“We do not have the money to spend on the already-overstretched health services and secondly to stop the people from dying of hunger.

“Therefore, I would be appealing to the world leaders, to the heads of financial institutions, to the secretary-general of the United Nations to launch an initiative that will give debt relief to developing countries to combat the virus,” he said.

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