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Delivered by Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana

28 April 2021

ESCAP

His Excellency Mr. Asim Iftikhar Ahmad, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary and Permanent Representative of ESCAP,

Excellencies, Distinguished Delegates,

Ladies and gentlemen,

It gives me great pleasure to welcome you to this high-level side event on “Debt relief in the aftermath of the pandemic”, convened by the Government of Pakistan.

I am very thankful to the President of ECOSOC, H.E. Mr.  Munir Akram, for kindly accepting my invitation to provide his opening remarks here today.

The COVID-19 pandemic is a truly unprecedented shock, that caused severe economic contraction, substantial job losses and considerable increase in poverty.

It has also made the pursuit of the SDGs much more challenging.

In response, Governments have rolled out significant fiscal packages, but their fiscal positions deteriorated, and debt levels rose significantly.

As such, sustaining policy support in the near-term will not be easy.

The global community responded through increased financing by the International Financial Institutions, and the Debt Services Suspension Initiative of the G20.

The recent announcement of a new general allocation of the equivalent to USD 650 billion in Special Drawing Rights by the IMF is also an encouraging development.

However, given the enormity of the task at hand, these measures may not be sufficient.

Further and continued support will be needed, and it is hoped that the G20 Common Framework for Debt Treatments will provide an appropriate platform for future debt restructurings.

Excellencies,

The UN Secretary-General recent policy brief on debt and liquidity provides additional ideas to address debt issues in developing countries, including on how to improve the international debt architecture.

The recently concluded ECOSOC forum on financing for development called upon the international community to strengthen inclusive dialogues and mechanisms on sovereign debt issues.

In this global context, the purpose of this side event is to discuss the debt situation in Asia and the Pacific.

We would be very interested to know the views of the speakers on the suitability of current mechanisms to provide debt relief.

I look forward to hearing your suggestions on ESCAP’s potential role as a regional platform for exchanges of views and collaboration on debt issues.

I very much look forward to the outcome of this side event.

I wish you a very productive session.

Thank you very much.

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