ECOSOC Chief Munir Akram calls for boosting infrastructure investment in Covid-hit poorer countries

ECOSOC Chief Munir Akram calls for boosting infrastructure investment in Covid-hit poorer countries

NEW YORK, Mar 02 (APP): The president of UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), Pakistan’s Ambassador Munir Akram, has said he believes the creation of a public-private facility under UN’s umbrella could provide adequate financing for infrastructure investment in coronavirus-hit developing countries to spur economic development.

“Such a facility would be a useful supplement to the efforts being made in other platforms to mobilize investment aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs),” he told members of the Paris-based Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) on Monday.

The investment needs of developing countries for sustainable infrastructure was estimated at $1 trillion each year, ECOSOC chief told members of the OECD in his keynote address, pointing out that the existing platforms were not yet to able to generate sufficient investments.

Underlining that COVID crisis had severely knocked back the aspirations to achieve the SDGs by 2030 in the developing countries, especially in the poorest amongst them, the Pakistani envoy said the recession was deep, inequality on the rise, and financial gap growing.

Highlighting Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan’s initiative for debt relief in April, Ambassador Akram welcomed the temporary suspension of debt by Group of 20 (industrialized countries) that brought “breathing space” to the developing countries.

In May, he said, the UN Secretary-General, together with Prime Ministers of Canada and Jamaica, began discussions on financing recovery from COVID-19 crisis, identifying many options that were being sorted out.

At the UN General Assembly special session, Ambassador Akram added, Prime Minister Imran Khan proposed a five-point action plan, which calls for equitable supply of COVID-19 vaccine to developing countries and suspension of debt repayments for most stressed countries until end of pandemic.

“The group of 20 (G-20) common framework can provide a basis for rapid action for debt relief in restructure even if this is done on case-by-case basis,” the Pakistani envoy said. But, he said, private creditors must be persuaded to participate in such debt relief restructuring that so far they have not done so.

In this regard, he proposed the creation of 500 million dollars of new Special Drawing Rights (SDRs) and the redistribution of un-utilized ones to the developing countries.

In addition, ECOSOC chief he said there was need for the expansion of concessional lending by the multilateral development banks, the enlargement of the Official Development Assistance (ODA) , targets by all developed countries, and the fulfillment of their commitment to mobilize $100 billion for year climate finance which is yet to be achieved.

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