Islamabad (Web Desk): Prime Minister Imran Khan on Wednesday said that coordinated global efforts were required to overcome the challenge of Covid-19 pandemic, reiterating his call for debt relief for developing countries.
Addressing a session of the World Economic Forum (WEF) through video link, the premier said that the experience of developed world is completely different what we are facing in the developing world.
"The speed at which the Covid-19 spread in Europe and the United States was not anticipated by rest of the world. We have seen rising cases in Pakistan but we have not reached the peak so far," he said.
PM Khan said we are facing twin challenges of stemming the growth of virus by lockdown and how to mitigate its effects on our population due to rising poverty.
"In Pakistan we have 25 million workers who are either daily wagers or self-employed. When we lockdown our economy, all these people become unemployed. In addition, they have families to support and the total number of people facing economic hardship reaches 150 million," the PM said.
He said that the government started cash transfer programme and reached out 15 million families in order to reduce their sufferings,
The premier said despite of the rising cases in the country, we decided to relax the lockdown and open some industries in order to help people earn their living.
"We also organized a volunteer force that will assist the government by sensitizing people and helping them in social distancing and other measures, and also help in distribution of relief goods", the PM said.
Imran Khan said Pakistan is facing a tough economic situation and the government has worked hard to reduce our current account deficit by taking a number of measures.
The prime minister said we are seeing a decline in foreign remittances and slow growth. He said the pandemic has reduced the fiscal space of all countries and put additional strain on existing health facilities.
Explaining why developing countries around the world needed the relief, the prime minister said that countries like "ours need fiscal space to divert resources to healthcare and the environment," adding that healthcare systems all over the world are in "direct line of fire of this pandemic”.
The PM said that he has spoken to the leaders of Nigeria, Ethiopia and Egypt and they had informed him that they were facing similar economic issues, such as drops in exports and revenue.
Prime Minister Imran Khan urged developed countries to come up with a debt relief policy to help worst hit countries because debt servicing meant that they have lost any fiscal space to cope with the challenge, especially with regards to the health sector.