UNITED NATIONS the President of UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), Pakistan’s Ambassador Munir Akram, has underscored the need for international community to mobilize the financing required to enable the developing countries to build back better from the devastation left behind by the deadly coronavirus pandemic.
“Today, every nation is struggling to recover from the worst health, economic and humanitarian crisis in a century, induced by the COVID-19 pandemic,” he said at a meeting of the Forum of the Countries of Latin America and the Caribbean on Sustainable Development.
In this regard, Ambassador Akram called for equality in the distribution of and access to the COVID-19 vaccine, making it available to each and every one – rich or poor – as soon as possible.
“Else,” he warned, “the virus will roam and return”.
While all countries have been adversely affected by the virus, the Latin American and Caribbean countries have recorded the sharpest economic contraction of 7.7%, with exports falling by 13% and 2.7 million firms, mostly small and medium size enterprises, having closed down amid the region’s rising debt.
In ECOSOC and in other forums, Ambassador Akram said there was an emerging agreement on a number of actions that need to be taken.
Citing Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan’s initiative for debt relief in April, he welcomed the temporary suspension of debt by Group of 20 (industrialized countries) that brought “breathing space” to the developing countries, while also calling for its expansion.
The developing countries, which need about US$4.2 trillion for COVID recovery and Sustainable Development Goals’ achievement, do not have access to the reserve currencies to create additional liquidity, he said.
The creation of a new Special Drawing Rights (SDRs) and redistribution of un-utilized quotas from richer to the developing countries, will be critical to provide that liquidity, Ambassador Akram said, adding that Prime Minister Imran Khan had proposed the creation of 500 billion SDRs.
The ECOSOC chief also proposed mobilization of significantly larger concessional finance for the poorest countries.
Ambassador Akram also called for a halt in the illicit flow of trillions of dollars out of the poorer countries to “havens” mostly in the richer countries. “Stolen assets should be returned expeditiously and unconditionally,” he said.
He stressed the need for advanced countries to fulfill their pledge to mobilize US$100 billion annually as climate finance for building back better and transition to a sustainable global economy and keeping global warming to 1.5 degree Celsius.
The ECOSOC chief old Latin American leaders that he had proposed the creation of a public-private facility for sustainable Infrastructure Investment under the auspices of the United Nations to help developing countries bridge the existing sustainable infrastructure investment gap.
“We must build equitable trade, taxation and technology regimes and enable the developing countries to unshackle the potential of their peoples for sustainable production and consumption,” he added.