At UN summit, PM Imran calls for return of stolen wealth to developing countries


ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan has called for prioritising return of stolen wealth to developing countries, vaccine equity, debt relief and climate finance as part of global economic recovery from the devastating effects of Covid-19 pandemic.

The prime minister said this while virtually addressing the World Leaders Summit Dialogue organised on Tuesday by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) during its ongoing 15th Quadrennial Meeting, hosted by Barbados.

The prime minister reiterated his concern regarding the illicit flow of $1 trillion from developing countries to tax havens, stressing on the need to halt these outflows.

“According to the FACTI panel (UN High Level Panel on International Financial Accountability, Transparency and Integrity) $7 trillion are parked in these tax havens and haven destinations,” he said.

“This plunder is taking place because of the corrupt ruling elite of the developing world,” the premier added. He termed the challenge a “huge crisis”, which he predicted will “only get worse” in the coming years.

PM Imran Khan said the only way this will stop is if the recommendations made by the FACTI panel are implemented, while also acknowledging that “unfortunately the richer countries which can do something about it [have] no incentive to do anything”.

The premier said that the illicit outflows are “crushing” the people of the developing world, not just because the money is being siphoned off to the developed world — which could instead be spent on human development — but also because resultantly, when the money leaves the country, it affects the local currency which devalues, leading to inflation, and then more poverty.

He said an unseen effect which even the developed world will see in the days to come is economic migrants, which are barely a “trickle” right now. “I urge you madam secretary general to do everything to raise awareness that this huge injustice which is being done to the people of the developing world, has to stop.”

Expressing concerns over vaccine inequity, the prime minister called for a more equitable distribution. Also, recalling his campaign for debt relief, the prime minister advocated for debt relief until the end of the pandemic.

Furthermore, he reaffirmed the urgent need for mobilisation of and contribution by richer countries to climate finance in view of the vulnerability and existential challenges faced by Small Island Developing Countries (SIDS) and other developing countries, including Pakistan.

Recalling his campaign for debt relief, the prime minister advocated for debt relief until the end of the pandemic.

The prime minister was invited to the dialogue along with the presidents of Kenya, and Guyana, Secretary General UNCTAD and heads of other UN agencies, under the theme of “Building a more prosperous development path: Matching the scale of the moment”.

The conference is taking place in the backdrop of unprecedented economic, public health and social effects, induced and exacerbated by Covid-19 pandemic.

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