COVID-19: 60 Countries Get $22bn in Emergency Funding–IMF

$188trn global debt IMF Chief

By Adedapo Adesanya

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has disbursed $22 billion in emergency financing to nearly 60 countries to cushion the impact of the coronavirus outbreak on their respective economies.

This was disclosed by the Bretton Wood institution’s Managing Director, Ms Kristalina Georgieva, at the United Nations event on Financing for Development in the Era of COVID-19.

She stated: “We are providing emergency financing on unprecedented scale – we have already disbursed $22 billion to nearly 60 countries and continue to receive and process new requests.  Never before have we supported so many countries at the same time and at such speed.”

Ms Georgieva said the lender was exploring ways to deploy Special Drawing Rights (SDRs) to support low-income and small economies, stating that the Fund, together with the World Bank, was also supporting the G20 debt service suspension initiative that could make about $12 billion available to eligible low-income countries.

“We are at the service of our members to fight the crisis and underpin sustainable and inclusive global recovery. After the global financial crisis, our shareholders had the wisdom to quadruple the Fund’s lending capacity to $1 trillion and we are ready to use this capacity to the fullest, working together with all of you,” she stated.

According to her, countries with weaker fundamentals, especially in terms of high debt levels, with dependence on hard-hit sectors, or affected by conflict, are suffering and market access remains difficult, or impossible.

“From commodity exporters in sub-Saharan Africa to the tourism-dependent small island economies in the Caribbean and elsewhere, 2020 is expected to result in their worst GDP growth outcome in decades and a large decline in per capita income,” she added.

She noted that 170 countries – almost 90 percent of the world, would have been badly hit by the crisis at the end of this year, noting that recent data indicates that global output could even shrink by more than the 3.0 percent this year that the IMF had initially projected.

She, however, said IMF was expecting partial recovery in 2021  and welcomed the decisive actions taken by policy makers around the world to stabilize the economy.

“Crucially, central banks responded swiftly and forcefully to the dramatic shock of this crisis as, in February and March, volatility spiked, liquidity deteriorated significantly, and massive asset market dislocations materialised.

“By cutting interest rates, purchasing over $4 trillion of assets and announcing plans for more, and introducing foreign currency swap lines, major central banks helped abate strains in financial markets, and ease global financial conditions,” Ms Georgieva noted.

Despite this, she said financial conditions remain dependent on uncertain economic and health developments, warning that countries are now facing bankruptcies, which could affect banks, particularly those with weaker buffers.

“To counter the impact of the crisis and support recovery, we advocate continued fiscal support, especially for workers and small and medium-sized enterprises. Globally, fiscal actions so far amount to about $9 trillion and significant further efforts will be needed in the months ahead,” she stated.

Adedapo Adesanya is a journalist, polymath, and connoisseur of everything art. When he is not writing, he has his nose buried in one of the many books or articles he has bookmarked or simply listening to good music with a bottle of beer or wine. He supports the greatest club in the world, Manchester United F.C.

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