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April 30, 2020

‘Developed, developing countries equally naïve to face COVID-19 crisis’

Islamabad

April 30, 2020

Islamabad : Dr Lee was giving presentation in an Online Policy Dialogue on “UNESCAP's Economic and Social Survey of Asia and the Pacific 2020 - Lessons for Pakistan” organised by Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) here Wednesday.

Dr. Lee said that even though there were many financial market actions, the rebound of the economies would be gradual and not sharp. He observed that people are to be prioritised over economic recovery. He said that $38 per person is needed per year and per person to achieve SDG 3 in the region which amounts to a total of $158 billion. He said that since 2000, even though 1 billion people had been lifted out of extreme poverty, income inequality increased along with the doubling of natural resource use and carbon emissions. He said that meeting human needs within the planetary boundaries is the defining challenge of our time

Dr. Hamza Ali Malik, Director, Macroeconomic Policy and Financing for Development Division, said that UNESCAP's Economic and Social Survey of Asia and the Pacific 2020 is a flagship publication of UNESCAP which analyses the overall macroeconomic development issues of the region as a whole. It has been around since 1947 and is currently focusing on how to support Agenda 2030, he said adding that looking at only one component, economic growth assessment will not be sufficient and that regions and policy makers need to prioritise human development and the planet to truly achieve sustainable development.

Former caretaker Finance Minister Dr Shamshad Akhtar said that developed countries are as naïve as developing countries in facing this crisis. One distinct feature of Asia Pacific and South Asia is high population and high population density, which makes them harder to manage she said adding that most of low-income countries were not able to move forward with structural reforms due to low financing capacity. The region took some good steps with regard to fiscal and monetary action but tax-GDP ratio is among the lowest here and is expected to shrink further, she continued. Financing SDGs will help us fight the crisis better and most importantly, linking social safety nets with financial inclusion will aid Pakistan immensely in achieving sustainable development, she concluded.

Dr Abid Qaiyum Suleri, Executive Director, SDPI, said that we need to think of subsidies for renewable energy instead of fossil fuel subsidies. He said that Pakistan’s spending on social protection currently was 1% of GDP but improved due to COVID 19. Furthermore, he proposed campaigning for universal social protection.

Dr Vaqar Ahmed, Joint Executive Director, SDPI, said that timely availability of concessional finance and global partnerships is vital to achieve the goal of sustainable consumption and production. He said that evidence use was important not only in policy but also for businesses. There was a need to show how business can internalise externalities and cooperation through partnerships can help achieve this.

He said tariff structures need to be revisited and value chains need to be promoted to attain sustainable production. He said reducing the regulatory burden can help create margins for private enterprises to invest in sustainable production.