COVID-19: IMF announces ‘immediate’ debt relief for 25 poorest countries

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has announced “immediate” debt relief for 25 poorest countries, including Nepal and Afghanistan, to help address the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, it said in a statement.Announcing the decision of the IMF executive board on April 13, IMF’s Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva said that the service has been extended under the IMF’s revamped Catastrophe Containment and Relief Trust (CCRT).“This provides grants to our poorest and most vulnerable members to cover their IMF debt obligations for an initial phase over the next six months and will help them channel more of their scarce financial resources towards vital emergency medical and other relief efforts,” Ms Georgieva said in a statement.

“The CCRT can currently provide about US$500 million in grant-based debt service relief, including the recent US$185 million pledge by the U.K. and US$100 million provided by Japan as immediately available resources.“Others, including China and the Netherlands, are also stepping forward with important contributions. I urge other donors to help us replenish the Trust’s resources and boost further our ability to provide additional debt service relief for a full two years to our poorest member countries,” the statement said.The countries that will receive debt service relief today are Afghanistan, Benin, Burkina Faso, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, Congo, Gambia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Haiti, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mozambique, Nepal, Niger, Rwanda, São Tomé and Príncipe, Sierra Leone, Solomon Islands, Tajikistan, Togo, and Yemen.

Nearly two million people have been infected by the virus worldwide till date, of which some 119,000 have died. The COVID-19 pandemic has spread to some 185 countries in five continents after it was first reported in Wuhan in China last year.The US, Italy, France, Spain, and the UK have been some of the worst affected countries. The virus continues to be a significant threat despite heightened global efforts to stop the contagion. In addition to COVID-19 assistance announced by the multilateral bodies, individual governments have also announced emergency relief packages for protecting their citizens and livelihoods.

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