The heads of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund on Friday underscored the need to provide debt relief to poorer countries hit by the coronavirus pandemic, and said official bilateral creditors would have to play a major role.
The IMF and the World Bank have both launched emergency programs to offer grants and loans to member countries, with a heavy focus on developing countries and emerging markets, some of which are already in debt distress.
They have also called on official bilateral creditors to provide immediate debt relief to the world’s poorest countries.
“Poorer countries will take the hardest hit, especially ones that were already heavily indebted before the crisis,” the World Bank’s president, David Malpass, told the International Monetary and Financial Committee, the steering committee of the IMF.
“Many countries will need debt relief. This is the only way they can concentrate any new resources on fighting the pandemic and its economic and social consequences,” he said, according to a text of his remarks.
Malpass said the bank had emergency operations under way in 60 countries, and its board was considering the first 25 projects valued at nearly $2 billion under a $14 billion fast-track facility to help fund immediate health-care needs.
The World Bank was also working with 35 countries to redirect existing resources to the pandemic, with almost $1 billion of those projects already approved. Overall, the bank plans to spend $160 billion over the next 15 month, he said.