Pakistani PM Imran Khan's impressive address to the World Economic Forum

Pakistani PM Imran Khan's impressive address to the World Economic Forum

ISLAMABAD - Pakistani PM Imran Khan made impressive impressive address to the World Economic Forum.

Prime Minister Imran Khan has stressed that coronavirus pandemic is a global problem and all the countries affected by it must adopt a joint strategy to address it.

Addressing the World Economic Forum’s Covid Action Platform, Prime Minister Imran Khan said that the situation in developed and developing countries is radically different as the spread of Covid-19 was not as rapid in developing nations such as Pakistan and India as it was in Western countries but on the other hand, number of cases is still increasing and developing countries are yet to hit the peak of coronavirus cases.

PM Imran said that the developing countries had to face the twin challenge of stemming the growth of the virus using lockdowns and consequently, mitigating the economic effects of the lockdown on the common people.

He explained that Pakistan has 25 million workers who are daily wagers or get paid weekly or are self employed, which means that any extended lockdown will result in 25 million unemployed people, possibly affecting 25 million households. In total, 120-150 million people have been directly affected by the lockdown and face stark poverty and starvation, he added.

To counter this, he said that the government came up with a cash transfer program which helped 15 million families cope with the lockdown. He noted however that this was only a short term solution so therefore, despite the rising number of cases, the government has decided to ease the lockdown and open up businesses and industries so people can find employment.

He said that we have realized that this year, we will have to learn to live with the virus until a vaccine is prepared and strike a balance between controlling the spread of the virus and prevent mass unemployment. To achieve this, the government has raised a volunteer force of 1 million volunteers who will help the overburdened administration and law-enforcement agencies, he said.

Imran Khan said that Pakistan has a tough year ahead and this comes at the worst possible time as just before Covid-19 hit, the country had managed to balance the current account and fiscal deficits after a series of very painful economic reforms.

He noted that the next year will not only be tough for Pakistan but for the whole world which is why there needs to be a global response to deal with this challenge.

He 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.