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PM Khan suggests UNGA 10-point plan to avoid eco crisis in developing states

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan has proposed a ten-point agenda to the world community to avert economic collapse in the developing countries due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Addressing a special session of the UN General Assembly, the Prime Minister warned that without economic security, conflicts and disputes would persist and proliferate across the world.
The Prime Minister joined nearly 100 world leaders at a two-day session of the United Nations General Assembly on the response to the deadly coronavirus pandemic and forging a united path forward to better recovery, including access to a vaccine.
The Prime Minister also stressed the need for reforming the international financial architecture; building an inclusive and equitable debt management mechanism; constructing a democratic SDG-focused trading system; and installing a fair international tax regime.
He said that the coronavirus pandemic has caused immense human suffering, but added that the poorest countries and the poor in all the countries are suffering the most. “Nearly 100 million people in developing countries will fall back into extreme poverty,” he warned.
He said that rich countries have injected $13 trillion as fiscal stimulus to revive their economies but the developing countries did not have that much resources. Pakistan, he said, is also committed under an IMF programme to reduce the budget deficit.
“I am sure other developing countries in our position are facing a similar dilemma. How to stimulate the economy and yet at the same time reduce our budget deficit? The only way we can have the fiscal space to maintain and revive growth is through access to additional liquidity,” Imran said.
Detailing his 10-point urgent action plan, the Prime Minister called for: debt suspension till the end of the pandemic for low-income and most stressed countries; cancellation of debt of least developed countries; restructuring of the public sector debt of other developing countries under an agreed inclusive multilateral framework; a general allocation of special drawing rights of $500 billion; expanded concessional financing to lower income countries through multilateral development banks; creation of a new ‘liquidity and sustainability facility’, which should provide short-term loans at lower costs; fulfilment of the 0.7 percent official development assistance commitments; mobilising the required $1.5 trillion annual investment in sustainable infrastructure’ achievement of the agreed target of mobilising $100 billion per year for climate action in developing countries; immediate action to stop the massive illicit financial outflows from developing countries to rich countries, to offshore tax havens and at the same time, immediate return of their assets stolen by corrupt politicians and criminals back to these countries.
In his speech, the prime minister also dilated on the strategy adopted by the Pakistan government to cope with the challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic, since its emergence in the country in February this year. “In Pakistan, we had a successful policy of ‘smart lockdowns’,” he said.
“Our efforts were aimed at ensuring that not only do we save people from the virus, but also prevent them from dying from hunger. We provided a relief package of around $8 billion – which was almost 3% of our GDP – to support the poor and to keep the economy afloat at the same time.
Imran said that so far, this strategy worked “but now we are confronted with a far more aggressive second wave of the virus. We are facing now the challenge of maintaining and reviving our economic growth as well as dealing with the increasing number of cases which are occupying our hospital beds”.
He reminded the summit about his call for “Global Initiative on Debt Relief” in April this year. He expressed his gratitude to G-20 for debt suspension and its subsequent extension till June next year. “We also appreciate the rapid lending facilities activated by the IMF and the World Bank,” he added.
To underscore his call for urgent global action, Imran said that five developing countries have already defaulted on their debt and warned that others are about to follow. “There are disturbing reports from the World Food Programme of possible famines in some parts of the world,” he added.
“If economic collapse is to be averted in a number of developing countries due to the Covid-19, the international community must identify and implement some key priority actions. Without economic security, conflicts and disputes will persist and proliferate across the world,” he said.
He expressed the hope that the ‘Financing for Development’ discussions initiated by the UN secretary general and the prime ministers of Canada and Jamaica, which have identified hundreds of options to support the developing countries, will culminate in some concrete actions soon.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Imran Khan has advised people to massively use Pakistan Citizen Portal (PCP) for prompt redressal of their complaints against government departments.
The Prime Minister said this while addressing a ceremony regarding two-year performance of Pakistan Citizen Portal in Islamabad on Friday.
The Prime Minister said that the portal works under the Prime Minister’s Delivery Unit, which is a step forward to empower common people. He said that the government is duty-bound to look after weaker segments of society, including poor, old people, orphans, and disabled.
Imran Khan said that three million people have used PCP for redressal of their complaints and their satisfaction level is very high regarding getting relief. He said that PCP also provides a complete picture about response and performance of ministries and departments. He said municipal services have appeared as the least responsive section in addressing people’s grievances. He said, “This happens as our local government system has failed to deliver to people’s needs.”
He said that the PTI government is going to introduce a new local government system under which funds will be directly transferred to village level. He said under this system, people will be empowered to utilise municipal funds as per their needs and priorities and resolve their issues pertaining to sewerage, waste management, provision of potable and water at local level.
He said that city governments will be established in big cities through direct elections to address civic issues locally. Imran Khan expressed his deep satisfaction over resolution of overseas Pakistanis’ problems through PCP.
He said that overseas Pakistanis are great asset of Pakistan and it is good that their problems were resolved promptly after they lodged their complaints on PCP. The Prime Minister said bribe is a big issue in Punjab and Sindh, where people are complaining of this menace.
He asked the people to register their complaints at the portal if a deputy commissioner, assistant commissioner or police officer demands bribe from them. He assured that the government will take action against such corrupt officials.
Earlier, giving an overview of two-year performance of the portal, PMDU head Adil Saeed Safi said around three million complaints were received and large numbers of them have been resolved. He said the portal also help frame rules and procedures in some of the government departments, which were missing earlier.
He said these key reforms made in the public interest, include enforcement of procedure for facilitation of persons with missing finger prints in NADRA, exemption of overseas Pakistanis from withholding tax, payment of outstanding stipend to 29,000 interns, and facilitation of female and other persons with disability to change their examination centre through Federal Public Service Commission.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Imran Khan formally launched Radio School and Education Portal on Friday to provide education through distance learning during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In his remarks on the occasion, the Prime Minister congratulated the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting and Ministry of Federal Education and Professional Training for taking this much required step to impart education in far-flung areas amid the pandemic. He urged parents to help children take maximum advantage of distance learning by utilising modern tools.
The Prime Minister stressed the need for online training of teachers, particularly in remote areas, to improve the quality of education. He said that distance learning will also help students of backward areas to get quality education even after the pandemic.
The Premier said that the government will ensure hiring trained, well-qualified teachers to make the facility of distance learning effective. The PM also said that the government promised to introduce a single national curriculum (SNC) because it will help Pakistan band together as a nation.
“Introducing a uniform curriculum was difficult, nonetheless, it is a great achievement of the government,” Prime Minister Imran Khan said. He explained that a uniform curriculum is important because it is the only way to streamline the country’s education system which is currently divided on the basis of Urdu-medium schools, English-medium schools, and Madrassahs.
“These divisions at the school level prevent Pakistanis to unify as a nation,” he said, adding that the SNC will provide equal opportunities to everyone irrespective of their socio-economic classes.
“The current system marginalises the poor segments of the society by putting a limit on their potential. I also think that it was very important to mainstream religious seminaries because they have been isolated for a long time,” the PM said.
The PM also stressed the need for a skill-based education system, stating that the Pakistani youth must be equipped with different skills in order to find appropriate jobs. “It is the government’s priority to improve the education system of the country,” he said. “To that end, we will extend maximum support to the Federal Ministry of Education.”
It may be mentioned that Radio Pakistan and the Ministry of Federal Education and Professional Training have signed a memorandum of understanding in this regard. Under the MoU, educational programmes are being broadcast from various medium wave and FM networks of Radio Pakistan from 10:00 am to 12:00 noon and then as repeat broadcast from 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm seven days a week. Besides broadcast of Radio School’s educational programmes, this facility is also available on mobile apps, which can be downloaded via Apple App Store and Google Play Store.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Imran Khan has categorically said that mosques will not be shut down during the second wave of Covid-19; however, it is imperative to ensure compliance with standard operating procedures (SOPs) against COVID-19.
The Prime Minister said this while talking to Minister for Religious Affairs Pir Noor-ul-Haq Qadri on Friday.
He directed the Ministry of Religious Affairs to remain in constant touch with the religious scholars and the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) on matters pertaining to Covid-19. He said the religious scholars should be kept informed about the latest coronavirus trends so that the message of compliance with the SOPs continues to emanate from mosques.
Pir Noor-ul-Haq Qadri also apprised the Prime Minister of the restructuring of Ulema and Mashaikh Council.
Earlier on November 24, the National Coordination Committee (NCC) had rejected a proposal of the Sindh government regarding the closure of mosques across the country amid a nationwide spike in COVID-19 cases.
“A proposal to shut down mosques should also be considered,” Sindh Health Minister Azra Fazl Pechuhu was quoted as saying during the meeting.
However, the NCC members had rejected the idea saying that they had already formulated SOPs for the mosque-goers and therefore the places of worship should not be closed down. – TLTP

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