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United Nations seeks swift debt relief for 54 poor nations

ISLAMABAD: The United Nations has demanded immediate debt relief for at least 54 poor nations in the world.

According to the UN, the cascading global crises have left 54 countries – home to more than half of the world’s poorest people – in dire need of debt relief.

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) warned on Tuesday that dozens of developing nations were facing a deepening debt crisis and that “the risks of inaction are dire”.

UNDP said without immediate relief, at least 54 countries would see increase poverty levels, and they desperately needed investments in climate adaptation and mitigation will not happen.

That was worrisome since the affected countries were “among the most climate-vulnerable in the world”. 

The UNDP’s report, published ahead of meetings of International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, and also of G20 finance ministers in Washington, recommended a swift action for debt relief.

UNDP chief Achim Steiner told reporters in Geneva today that despite repeated warnings and requests, “little has happened so far, and the risks have been growing,”

“That crisis is intensifying and threatening to spill over into an entrenched development crisis across dozens of countries across the world.”

Volatility

“Market conditions are shifting rapidly as a synchronised fiscal and monetary contraction and low growth are fuelling volatility around the globe,” UNDP said.

The UN agency said debt troubles had been brewing in many of the affected countries long before the Covid-19 pandemic hit.

“The rapid build-up in debt over the past decade has been consistently underestimated,” it said.

The freeze on debt repayment during the Covid crisis to lighten their burden has expired and negotiations under the G20 Common Framework created during the pandemic to help heavily-indebted countries find a path to restructure their obligations has been moving at a snail’s pace. 

According to available data, 46 of the 54 countries had amassed public debt totalling $782 billion in 2020, the report said.

Argentina, Ukraine and Venezuela alone account for more than a third of that amount.

The situation is deteriorating rapidly, with 19 of the developing countries now effectively shut out of the lending market – 10 more than at the start of the year.

Javed Mahmood
Written By

I am an experienced writer, analyst, and author. My exposure in English journalism spans more than 28 years. In the past, I have been working with daily The Muslim (Lahore Bureau), daily Business Recorder (Lahore/Islamabad Bureaus), Daily Times, Islamabad, daily The Nation (Lahore and Karachi). With daily The Nation, I have served as Resident Editor, Karachi. Since 2009, I have been working as a Freelance Writer/Editor for American organizations.

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