While slamming the "vaccine nationalism" and export restrictions by some countries, Prime Minister Imran Khan on Monday urged the international community to ensure that the Covid-19 vaccine is available to “everyone, everywhere, and as soon as possible”.
He expressed these views while delivering the opening statement at the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) Forum on Financing for Development (FfD), which is being held under Pakistan’s presidency from April 12-15.
The objective of the forum is to mobilise adequate financial support to enable the developing countries to recover from the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and achieve the sustainable development goals (SDGs) and the climate objectives.
The special high-level segment of the ECOSOC forum is being held in response to a decision of the UN General Assembly.
"The international community must ensure that the vaccine is available to everyone, everywhere, and 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," the premier said.
He deplored the "vaccine nationalism", export restrictions on it as well as the use of the vaccine to advance national foreign policy objectives.
The premier said that Pakistan successfully 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."
He said that the forum is an important opportunity to adopt decisions on ways to mobilise 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," PM Imran said and added that the private creditors must participate in providing debt relief and restructuring.
The premier said that Pakistan warmly welcomes 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."
He said that the 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."
'Stolen assets of developing countries must be returned immediately'
PM Imran said that the panel on Financial Accountability, Transparency and Integrity (FACTI) 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," the premier maintained.
He said that a moratorium should be declared on the exorbitant claims adjudicated against some developing countries in investment disputes. "Unequal and exploitative investment agreements should be cancelled and revised."
'Developed nations must fulfil commitments under Paris Agreement'
He said that Pakistan’s carbon emissions are among the lowest in the world, yet the country is one of the most seriously affected and vulnerable country due to 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," he added.
PM Imran reiterated that the developed nations must fulfil their commitments under the Paris Agreement and mobilise 100 billion dollars annually in climate finance as they have promised. "50 per cent of this must be devoted to adaptation programmes of developing countries," he added.
In his concluding remarks, the premier said that 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," he concluded.