PM Imran calls for fair, cheap access to COVID-19 vaccine

ISLAMABAD: Suggesting a five-point framework to fight the pandemic and recovering economies, Prime Minister Imran Khan has called for devising a viable framework for equitable and affordable supply of COVID-19 vaccine to developing countries.
The Prime Minister on Monday virtually addressed the 4th session of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development Intergovernmental Group of Experts on Financing for Development.
The Prime Minister proposed equitable supply of COVID-19 vaccine to developing countries and suspension of debt repayments for most stressed countries until the end of the pandemic. “The coverage of the COVAX facility must be expanded. This would enable the developing countries to spend their precious resources on socio-economic development needs,” he said.
Calling the pandemic an opportunity to address the structural barriers hampering global prosperity and development, he suggested the suspension of debt repayments for the most stressed countries until the end of the pandemic and restructuring of their public-sector debt under an agreed and inclusive multilateral framework. Moreover, the expansion of concessional financing through multilateral development banks was also essential, he emphasised.
The PM called for a general allocation of Special Drawing Rights (SDRs) of $500 billion to help alleviate balance-of-payment pressures.
Reiterating his stance of return of stolen assets held by corrupt politicians and criminals, the Prime Minister viewed that the illicit financial outflows from developing nations cause more poverty in that world than any other factor.
“Reportedly, a staggering amount of $7 trillion is parked in haven destinations. And it is also reported that $1 trillion annually leaves the developing countries for these haven destinations,” he told the meeting also addressed by the prime minister of Barbados, vice president of Plurinational State of Bolivia, and second vice president of government of Spain.
The fifth point of the proposed agenda was meeting the agreed target of mobilising $100 billion annually by developed countries for climate action in developing countries.
Terming the economic malaise and recession “highly communicable” like the coronavirus, the Premier said the global policy measures, along his proposed lines are urgently needed to save lives, revive economies, and build back better.
He thanked the UNCTAD secretary general for organising the extremely important session and said the world is grappling with a series of interlinked and unprecedented public health and economic crises. He said as the coronavirus does not discriminate between the rich and the poor, the most vulnerable people and countries have suffered the most. “Millions are likely to fall back into poverty,” Imran feared.
He told the meeting that Pakistan’s efforts have been aimed at ensuring their protection from both COVID-related as well as hunger-related deaths. “Our strategy, fortunately, has worked well so far. But continuous efforts are needed to fully overcome the second wave of the virus. And also at the same time to maintain and stimulate economic growth,” the Prime Minister said.
He said the COVID-19 vaccines are now being administered in developed countries but seemed that it will take much longer time for the vaccine to fully cover the global South.
He viewed that sustainable development would remain elusive as long as the pandemic persisted. Developing countries are trapped between recovering from the pandemic and meeting their debt servicing obligations, he added.
He said in April last year, he had called for a ‘Global Initiative on Debt Relief’ for creating fiscal space and reviving economic growth for developing countries. “But I am afraid much more needs to be done on this account. Otherwise, achieving the Sustainable Development Goals by the target date of 2030 will remain a daunting challenge,” he remarked.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Imran Khan has appreciated the steps taken by Ministry of Science and Technology for promotion of drone technology in the country.
The Prime Minister was talking to Minister for Science and Technology Fawad Chaudhry on Monday. The Premier observed that drones can be used for various purposes such as agriculture, urban planning, security, and law and order.
During the meeting, the Prime Minister was given a detailed briefing on the Drone Authority Ordinance. It was briefed that with the establishment of the Drone Authority, drone technology will be used for research purposes in various fields including assistance in maintaining law and order, search and rescue operations, logistics, agriculture and many other areas for peaceful purposes.
In addition, the achievements of the Ministry of Science and Technology in the field of health and electric vehicles and their positive impact on local products and exports were informed.
Earlier on Saturday last, submitting a draft for an ordinance to establish Civil Drone Regulatory Authority (CDRA) in the country to Prime Minister Imran Khan, the Ministry of Science and Technology (MoST) sought approval in principle.
Talking to TLTP, consultant to MoST Umer Sajjad Chaven said the federal government has decided to set up a Civil Drone Regulatory Authority for effective use of remote-controlled surveillance technology in various fields. He said that after promulgation of the ordinance, drone would be allowed to use exclusively for civil purposes including usage for agriculture, recreation activities and research and development, adding the law will allow to carry out activities with the purpose of obtaining new knowledge that shall enable the development of drone and its associated technology or creating new equipment, products and tools using the available information and resources, creating new systems, processes and services including software production or improving those that are available.
Umer Sajjad said that after commencement of the ordinance the Authority will regulate operation, manufacturing, assembling, designing, importing, developing and research on drones and associated technologies used for civil purposes in Pakistan.
Other functions of the Authority after commencement of the Ordinance would be to grant, cancel and renew licenses for manufacturing, importing and operation of drone and associated technology used for civil purposes on payment of such fees as it may, from time to time. Besides, the Authority would have power to prescribe standards for grant of license to local manufacturers and importers of drone and associated technologies and certify compliance of such equipment with prescribed standards.
He said in order to support the local industry in manufacturing, assembly, integration and design of drone and drone-based applications the Authority will monitor and enforce licenses besides entering into contracts. Once the Ordinance is commenced the Authority will attract investment into drones and associated technologies including foreign direct investments, venture capital funds, public sector investments, public private investments and private funds.
According to the draft the Authority will develop studies, feasibility reports, experiments, public-private partnership frameworks, financial vehicles, technical research and surveys related to drones and its associated technologies.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Imran Khan claimed on Monday that people who illegally occupied state land enjoyed the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz’s (PML-N) patronage.
Chairing a meeting of government spokespersons and party leaders, the Prime Minister opined: “Nobody can encroach upon state land without political patronage.” He wondered that the operation to clear state land of encroachments is being billed as a political move by opposition leaders.
The Prime Minister directed the government spokespersons to apprise the nation of the anti-encroachment operation. The current political situation, foreign funding case, operation against land grabbers and Broadsheet issue came under discussion during the meeting.
The Prime Minister further said, “Those who tried to embroil us in the foreign funding case have got themselves entangled. Our stance stood vindicated before the Election Commission.”
He reiterated the government’s resolve to ensure a fair and just probe into the Broadsheet issue. “We will bring to light every character who inflicted losses on the national exchequer,” he resolved.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Imran Khan has summoned a joint parliamentary party meeting of ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and its allied parties on Wednesday (tomorrow).
According to the details, the joint parliamentary party meeting of PTI and its allied parties will be held in Parliament House with PM Imran in the chair. The session will begin at 2.00 pm. All the lawmakers of PTI and its allied parties have been asked to ensure their presence in the important meeting.
The meeting will formulate a plan for the different legislations and upcoming Senate elections. Prime Minister Khan will take the parliamentary party leaders into confidence regarding different government decisions. – TLTP

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