World Bank, IMF push for debt relief to low income nations

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank Group have jointly called on official bilateral creditors to offer immediate debt relief to low income countries that are experiencing the impact of the new coronavirus.

In a joint statement, the institutions said Wednesday that the coronavirus outbreak is likely to have severe economic and social consequences for IDA countries – low income countries.

Rwanda is a member of International Development Association (IDA), which makes the country eligible to get concessional loans and grants specifically designed to poorest countries.

“In light of #COVID19, this AM @KGeorgieva (Kristalina Georgieva) & I jointly called on official bilateral creditors to suspend debt payments from @WBG_IDA countries,” David Malpass, the World Bank President said after their joint meeting.

According to the institutions, this will help with IDA countries’ immediate liquidity needs to tackle challenges posed by the coronavirus outbreak and allow time for an assessment of the crisis impact and financing needs for each country.

“We invite G20 leaders to task the WBG and the IMF to make these assessments, including identifying the countries with unsustainable debt situations,” the statement reads in part.

The statement also proposes comprehensive action by official bilateral creditors to address both the financing and debt relief needs of IDA countries.

The World Bank and the IMF said it is imperative at this moment to provide a global sense of relief for developing countries as well as a strong signal to financial markets.

Kristalina Georgieva, the IMF’s Managing Director, had said on Monday that the global economy would experience an economic recession in 2020 and poorest countries would be hit most.

“Advanced economies are generally in a better position to respond to the crisis, but many emerging markets and low-income countries face significant challenges,” she noted.

“They are badly affected by outward capital flows, and domestic activity will be severely impacted as countries respond to the epidemic,” she added.

According to the IMF, investors have already removed $83 billion from emerging markets since the beginning of the crisis, the largest capital outflow ever recorded.

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