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Opening Statement by Prime Minister Imran Khan at Special Segment of the ECOSOC Forum

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The following is the Opening Statement delivered by Prime Minister of Pakistan Imran Khan virtually at the Special High-Level Segment of the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) on Financing for Development (FfD) on April 12, 2021.

 

“Bismillah-er-Rahman-er-Rahim President of the Economic and Social Council, Ambassador Munir Akram, President of the General Assembly, Mr. Volkan Bozkir, Secretary-General of the United Nations, Mr. Antonio Guterres, It is a pleasure to make this opening statement at the Economic and Social Council’s Financing for Development Forum under Pakistan’s Presidency.

The deliberations of the Forum this year are critical as the world battles the Coronavirus and its massive socio-economic fallout. Pakistan contained the first two waves of the virus through a policy of “smart lockdowns.”

We implemented an 8 billion dollar relief package to support the poor and vulnerable, and to keep our economy afloat at the same time. Now, unfortunately, we are facing the third wave of the virus. InshaAllah, we hope to defeat this wave as well. We need a lot of luck, as everyone does.

The international community must ensure that the vaccine is available to everyone, everywhere, as soon as possible. If not, the virus will roam around and come back. Production of the vaccine must be ramped up. Patent and technology-transfer restrictions should be waived to enable this. “Vaccine nationalism” and export restrictions are deplorable; as is the use of the vaccine to advance national foreign policy objectives.

Excellencies,

This Forum is an important opportunity to adopt decisions on ways to mobilize the money needed by developing countries to recover from the COVID-induced recession and restore them on the path to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030. Last April, I proposed a Global Initiative on Debt Relief.

I am glad to say that the G-20’s Debt Suspension has been extended. Its scope needs to be enlarged to encompass all vulnerable countries, especially the Small Island Developing States. Private creditors must participate in providing debt relief and restructuring.

In January of this year, at the UNCTAD meeting, I proposed a five-point agenda for emergency financial support to developing countries including debt relief and restructuring, SDR creation and redistribution, larger concessional finance, and an end to illicit financial flows from developing countries.

I warmly welcome the proposal from the IMF Managing Director to create 650 billion dollars in new SDRs, and appreciate the support for this from the largest shareholders, including the US, China, the EU, and Japan. The IMF, the World Bank, and other development banks now have an ample capacity to enlarge concessional financing for developing countries.

The forthcoming IDA replenishment should be enlarged to 60 billion dollars. Developing countries should also be able to borrow from the markets at the prevailing low-interest rates which are available to developed countries. The liquidity and sustainability facility, proposed by the Economic Commission for Africa, could be one of the ways to achieve this. The Panel on Financial Accountability, Transparency, and Integrity – the FACTI Panel – has proposed 14 recommendations to halt the outflow of trillions of dollars from developing countries. These recommendations should be endorsed by the United Nations and all financial institutions.

The stolen assets of developing countries must be returned immediately and more importantly unconditionally.

While speaking to the FACTI Panel, I proposed the imposition of a global minimum corporate tax to avoid profit-shifting and tax avoidance by large corporations. I endorse the recent US proposal for such a global minimum corporate tax. A moratorium should be declared on the exorbitant claims adjudicated against some developing countries in investment disputes. Unequal and exploitative investment agreements should be canceled and revised.

Excellencies,

The challenge posed by the COVID crisis is, as the UN Secretary-General has said, also an opportunity to “build back better.” We must seize this opportunity to transform the world economy into one that is development-oriented and environmentally sustainable.

Pakistan’s carbon emissions are among the lowest in the world. Yet, we are one of the most seriously affected and vulnerable countries due to the climate crisis. We have embarked on an ambitious programme to create a “green” Pakistan through reforestation, by planting 10 billion trees over the next three years, and introduction of renewable energy, electric vehicles and a moratorium on coal-burning power plants.

The developed nations must fulfill their commitments under the Paris Agreement and mobilize 100 billion dollars annually in climate finance as they have promised. Fifty percent of this must be devoted to adaptation programs of developing countries.

The United Nations is well placed to take the lead in formulating and coordinating the implementation of a plan to make the transition to a green global economy. I hope that the UN will create an inclusive, multi-stakeholder mechanism to do so.

Excellencies,

We are at a critical point in world history. The COVID pandemic has dramatically illustrated humanity’s oneness and interdependence.

We must disavow power rivalries and geopolitical competition. We must opt for unconditional international cooperation. Together, we can – we must – construct a new, peaceful, equitable, and sustainable world order. I thank you.”

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