World Bank, IMF call for debt relief to poorest Countries

WASHINGTON, March 25, 2020— The World Bank Group and International Monetary Fund have issued the following joint statement to the G20 concerning debt relief for the poorest countries:The coronavirus outbreak is likely to have severe economic and social consequences for IDA countries, home to a quarter of the world’s population and two-thirds of the world’s population living in extreme poverty.
With immediate effect—and consistent with national laws of the creditor countries—the World Bank Group (WBG) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) call on all official bilateral creditors to suspend debt payments from IDA countries that request forbearance. 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, and to prepare a proposal for comprehensive action by official bilateral creditors to address both the financing and debt relief needs of IDA countries. We will seek endorsement for the proposal at the Development Committee during the Spring Meetings (April 16/17).
The World Bank Group and the IMF believe 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. The international community would welcome G20 support for this Call to Action.
World Bank President David malpass joined the G20 Virtual Leaders Summit this (March 26) morning to highlight ongoing World Bank Group efforts to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. During the summit, he reiterated his call for debt relief for poor nations.
“We have new COVID-related projects underway in 56 countries and we’re encouraging other MDBs to co-finance follow-up tranches,” said Malpass. “In 24 countries, we’re restructuring existing projects in order to direct funds to the health emergency.”
He added that private sector support is critical. “IFC, our private sector arm, is already working on new investments in 300 companies and extending trade finance and working capital lines to clients.” – WB release