Joint coronavirus fund proposed for SAARC countries


South Asian Association of Regional Countries (SAARC) Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCI) President-designate Iftikhar Ali Malik has proposed setting up a novel coronavirus (COVID-19) emergency fund with India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and Bangladesh with an initial amount of US $5 million each to deal with the pandemic.

In a statement issued here on Monday Iftikhar Malik said it was important for South Asian countries to focus on collaboration, not confusion, and preparation not panic.

He said this could be based on voluntary contributions from all of us.

“Looking ahead, we can create a common research platform, to coordinate research on controlling epidemic diseases within our South Asian region,” he said adding “we share common regional concerns on COVID-19”.

He said it was 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 a skirmish on the backburner as coronavirus is a common threat for human beings.

Malik said the good thing was that governments in South Asian countries were implementing measures to stop the virus from spreading any further, but they faced 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, the South Asian countries lack preparedness to tackle the situation. “A possible spread of the coronavirus in these countries could prove to be catastrophic,” he added.

He hoped that the government would make all efforts to combat and would actively coordinate for necessary emergency funding from both the local and international sources to ward off any negative impacts of coronavirus on livelihoods, jobs, especially the industry.

Appreciating Prime Minister Imran Khan for taking exigent measures against coronavirus in Pakistan, Iftikhar Malik said the good thing was that the government was making all-out efforts to deal with the deadly virus. He also urged all segments of the society to come forward and play their role in containing the spread of novel coronavirus.

He said like other countries in the world, Pakistan’s initial economic losses in different sectors of the country’s economy had been estimated at Rs1.3 trillion.

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