Ending poverty, hunger must spearhead efforts to overcome setbacks: Pakistan

UNITED NATIONS: With the COVID-19 pandemic casting a pall over the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, Pakistan has called for greater international cooperation at this point in time to accomplish the development targets, while highlighting national efforts towards resilient inclusive recovery and growth.

Addressing the UN Commission on Social Development — a subsidiary body of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC)— Ambassador Aamir Khan, Pakistan’s deputy permanent representative to the UN, said that eradication of poverty (Sustainable Development Goal 1) and hunger (SDG 2) must remain at the forefront of recovery efforts at both the national and international levels.

“Reducing poverty and addressing food insecurity are the core objectives of our government’s flagship welfare program, Ehsaas,” the Pakistani representative said.

Despite resource constraint, he said, Prime Minister Imran Khan launched an 8-billion-dollar stimulus package – 3% of GDP – to support 12 million poor and vulnerable people with direct payments through Ehsaas.

In addition, he said, “Smart lockdown” policies saved lives and livelihoods by delivering immediate relief to 12 million households. Other elements of Pakistan’s development strategy involve providing shelter homes, free health coverage for the poor, youth empowerment programs, and targeted subsidies to farmers.

Ambassador Aamir Khan expressed concern that 20 years after the World Summit for Social Development, progress has been slow and uneven. Developing countries need sufficient financial resources and liquidity to deliver anti-poverty and social protection programmes.

While $17 trillion has been mobilized for financial surplus in rich countries, he said, developing nations are struggling to mobilize even a fraction of the $4.3 trillion they need to recover from COVID-19.

In conclusion, the Pakistani representative called for mobilizing resources from all possible sources, notably debt restructuring, fulfillment of the 0.7 percent official development assistance (ODA) target, redistribution of the $650 billion in new special drawing rights, and larger concessional finance from the International Monetary Fund (IMF). TF REPORT

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