Pakistan calls for debt relief amid pandemic

World Grigory Matyunin 13-Apr-2020
Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan
ID 93164973 © Aleem Zahid Khan | Dreamstime.com

Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan has appealed to to international creditors for debt relief so that the economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic might be more efficient.

Nationwide lockdowns have come into force throughout Pakistan in a bid to forestall the spread of the virus. Pakistan so far has 5,183 cases and 88 deaths. The lockdowns, which are largely preventative, are taking a heavy toll on the economy, bringing already sluggish growth to a stop and putting large numbers out of work.

Pakistan’s foreign debt is over $100bn. Spending a considerable portion of the budget on debt servicing, the country has a smaller capacity to increase social spending in times of crisis. The $900m programme designed to help 12 million poor families will be difficult for Pakistan to afford.

Islamabad will receive $1.4bn from the IMF’s Rapid Financing Initiative towards its response to the coronavirus pandemic. It is also separately receiving support from the IMF to bolster its troubled economy.

Globally, there are 1,850,734 known cases of coronavirus and over 100,000 deaths. The United States has recently passed Italy as the country with the highest officially registered death toll from the disease.