Representational image. PHOTO: REUTERS

Pakistani businessmen seek debt rescheduling with looming coronavirus threat

Businessmen say revenue insufficient due to partial operation of export units amid coronavirus lockdown

Imran Rana April 15, 2020
FAISALABAD: Developed countries must realise the threat from the prevalent crisis in developing and under-developed countries and consider debt payment rescheduling in order to save these nations from total economic collapse.

Commenting on Prime Minister Imran Khan’s appeal for a global initiative on debt relief for developing countries, Faisalabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FCCI)’s Standing Committee on Research, Development and CPEC Chairman Ahmad Hassan, in a video conference with members, said developing countries like Pakistan had to face poverty, inflation and a huge debt burden coupled with other problems.

He pointed out that developed countries like USA, Germany and many others had allocated trillions of dollars in stimulus packages to save their sinking economies, however, developing countries were not even in a position to feed their populations.

It was pointed out in the conference that in letters sent to the Founder and Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum in June 2014 and in February 2019 by the FCCI, it was highlighted that “it is strange that today we proudly say that the world has become a global village but the helpless majority is yet waiting for the global wealth”.

In light of a recent World Bank report, meeting participants emphasised that due to financial constraints and limited resources, Pakistan’s population could not be confined to their houses for a longer period of time. People would eventually move out to earn their livelihood which may spread the disease further, they said.

Lamenting that economic activities were already at a standstill, Hassan remarked that due to partial operations in export-oriented units, the revenue was insufficient to stop the decline in the economy. He expressed concern that the fall in economic growth would further add to poverty, thus, the government would not be in a position to provide basic amenities to its population due to plummeting revenue.

The meeting participants also analysed that if the government eased the lockdown, there were chances for the spread of the virus and if the authorities decided to continue the restrictions, the people might die of hunger.

Saying that developed countries, particularly the United Nations, should conduct a comprehensive survey on the impact of coronavirus on the economies of developing countries, Hassan urged global institutions to reschedule their loans in addition to providing supporting facilities immediately. 

Published in The Express Tribune, April 15th, 2020.

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