IFIs announce “debt service suspension”

By Staff Reporter
Friday – April 17, 2020
ISLAMABAD: The foreign minister (FM) Shah Mahmood Qureshi welcomed, Thursday, announcements by the international financial institutions (IFIs) including the Group of Twenty (G20), International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Bank (WB) and others on debt service suspension initiative for debt stressed countries.

According to an official statement, FM Qureshi held a meeting with the IMF resident representative Teresa Daban Sanchez, Thursday, and underscored that any initiative for supporting the developing countries to combat COVID-19 (coronavirus) ramifications should be inclusive and without onerous conditionality.

Referring to the enormous challenges posed by COVID-19, the FM highlighted prime minister (PM) Imran Khan’s appeal for a “global initiative on debt relief” for developing countries to enable them fiscal space to combat the disease, save precious lives, and shore up economies.

The meeting was in further follow-up of the PM’s initiative and Pakistan’s efforts to bring together important stakeholders on a platform to promote coordinated health and economic response.

The discussion focused on the COVID-19 pandemic and its aftermath.

While acknowledging the important role of the IMF, the FM exchanged views on the measures being taken by Pakistan to contain the pathogen and address the associated socio-economic challenges.

It was agreed to continue to closely engage on COVID-19 and on other matters of mutual interest.

Meanwhile, in Beijing, Chinese foreign office (FO) spokesperson Zhao Lijian, Thursday, mentioned, “Yesterday, G20 finance ministers and central bank governors discussed and adopted a debt service suspension initiative for poorest countries at a virtual meeting” adding “They agreed that both principal repayments and interest payments will be suspended for over 70 countries, starting on May 1, 2020, until end-2020.”

He said, “They are all least developed countries as defined by the United Nations (UN) and International Development Association (IDA) countries current on debt service.”

Chinese FO spokesperson Lijian expressed, “Adhering to the vision of a community with a shared future for mankind and upholding justice while pursuing shared interests, China is committed to providing assistance within its capacity to the poorest countries for their poverty reduction and development.”

He continued, “Going forward, China will, in accordance with the consensus of the G20 on debt relief, help the poorest countries concentrate their efforts on fighting the epidemic and supporting economic and social development, and continue to actively participate in international anti-epidemic cooperation through other multilateral and bilateral channels.”

Chinese FO spokesperson Lijian asserted, “China calls on multilateral and private creditors to promptly take actions to participate in the debt service suspension initiative for poorest countries and jointly help them tide over the difficulties.”

He reminded, “China and Pakistan are all-weather strategic cooperative partners. Yesterday, State Councillor and FM Wang Yi took a phone call from Pakistani FM Qureshi” adding “FM Yi said that at a crucial moment in China’s fight against the epidemic, Pakistani president Arif Alvi made a special trip to China to express Pakistan’s firm support to Chinese leaders, which China has taken to heart.”

Chinese FO spokesperson Lijian educated, “At present, Pakistan’s epidemic situation is also weighing on the minds of the Chinese people. All sectors in China have taken voluntary actions to donate money and supplies and help our Pakistani brothers and sisters to the best of our ability” adding “The Chinese government has provided many batches of assistance in goods to Pakistan, sent a medical team, and held video conferences of experts to share experience in prevention and treatment” promising “We will continue to provide all possible support to Pakistan in accordance with its needs to help Pakistan overcome the epidemic as soon as possible.”

He concluded, “Pakistani FM Qureshi thanked China for its valuable support which has played an important role in Pakistan’s prevention and control efforts” appreciating “Pakistan speaks highly of China’s targeted and effective measures in the face of the unprecedented global public health and economic crisis which have led to positive results” adding “Pakistan is ready to work closely with China to deepen the all-weather strategic cooperative partnership in the fight against the epidemic. Stay strong, Pakistan!

Separately, back home, the adviser to the prime minister on finance and revenue (A-PM-FR) Abdul Hafeez Shaikh, Thursday, called on PM Khan, whereat the PM appreciated debt relief measures by G20 countries, IMF and the WB for developing countries including Pakistan.

According to an official statement, Hafeez informed the PM about the planned approval of an additional $1.4 billion concessionary financing from IMF to deal with the economic impact of coronavirus.

He also updated the PM about the progress on various components of economic stimulus package announced by the government.