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March 23, 2020

$28m Covid-19 emergency fund proposed

National

March 23, 2020

LAHORE: Saarc Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCI) president-designate Iftikhar Ali Malik proposed a US $28 million Covid-19 emergency fund while sitting president Ruwan Edirisinghe from Sri Lanka endorsed the suggestion.

The two designated and sitting presidents agreed to jointly combat coronavirus that is need of the hour and also agreed to pursue the other member countries to contribute their shares in the Covid-19 Emergency Fund for Saarc nations.

Initially, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh will contribute $5 million each and Maldives, Nepal, Bhutan and Afghanistan should contribute $2 million in this proposed coronavirus emergency fund.

According to a statement issued here Sunday, Iftikhar Ali Malik talking to SCCI President Ruwan Edirisinghe on phone to deliberate on coronavirus pandemic and its adverse impact on socio-economic situation of the member countries, agreed to focus on collaboration, not confusion, and preparation, not panic. This could be based on voluntary contributions from all of us. “Looking ahead, we could create a common research platform, to coordinate research on controlling epidemic diseases within our South Asian region,” adding, he said we share common regional concerns on Covid-19. While hoping for best, we have to prepare for the worst.

“It is time now that South Asian countries come forward with commitment and determination setting an example to the world, and contribute to a healthier planet, putting all kinds of skirmish on the backburner as coronavirus is a common threat to human beings,” Malik added.

He said the good thing was that governments in South Asian countries were implementing measures to stop the virus from spreading any further, but they face many difficulties in containing the pandemic. “Unlike Western countries that have a proper quarantine mechanism in place at airports and other places — and medical facilities available to patients while all countries in South Asia lack preparedness to tackle the situation”. “A possible spread of coronavirus in these countries could prove to be catastrophic,” he added.