A daily wage worker sits at roadside looking for work or alms, during a lockdown in Islamabad. AP
Prime Minister Imran Khan on Thursday appreciated the debt relief measures by G20 countries, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank for developing countries, including Pakistan.
The premier lauded the debt relief measures after Finance Advisor Dr Abdul Hafeez Sheikh called him and informed him about the planned approval of an additional $1.4 billion concessionary financing from IMF to deal with the economic impact of coronavirus.
A street vendor selling miswaks (a teeth cleaning twig) and face masks waits for customers next to her daughter in Lahore. AFP
The advisor also updated the premier about the progress on various components of the Economic Stimulus Package announced by the government.
Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said the decision by G20 countries to give debt relief to developing countries will have "substantial impact” on Pakistan, allowing the country a much needed "fiscal space” to focus on the downtrodden against the backdrop of Covid-19.
He told reporters said the initial debt relief was for one year but added the period could be extended since the situation was still evolving.
Asked to share the benefits for Pakistan, the foreign minister said Pakistan annually spent $10 to $12 billion on debt servicing. He said while the details were being worked out by the finance ministry, the impact of debt relief for Pakistan would be ‘substantial’.
Since the outbreak of Covid-19, Prime Minister Khan has been seeking debt relief for developing and poor countries. On April 12, he formally launched an appeal urging the international financial institutions and developed world seeking debt relief.
Qureshi said prior to the prime minister’s appeal, the foreign office in consultations with the relevant ministries prepared a comprehensive plan for the debt relief.
For this purpose, he said he wrote letters and spoke to 30 foreign ministers over the past few weeks, seeking their help for Prime Minister Imran’s global initiative for debt relief.
The foreign minister said the decision of G-20 was historic and would give major relief to the developing countries.
Qureshi credited the debt relief for developing countries to the prime minister, who was one of the first world leaders calling for such reprieve for developing countries.
To a question, Qureshi urged President Donald Trump to review his decision of suspending funds to the World Health Organisation (WHO). He said this was the time all countries should be united against the fight against coronavirus.
He said the premier’s debt relief initiative has benefited Pakistan as well as the developing world that is grappling to deal with the effects of the pandemic.
Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI), which translates into Pakistan Movement for Justice, has 12 seats in the Senate, and the two main opposition parties Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and Pakistan Muslim League - Nawaz (PML-N) have 12 and 25 seats each.
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