FILE PHOTO: The International Monetary Fund (IMF) logo is seen outside the headquarters building in Washington, U.S., as IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde meets with Argentine Treasury Minister Nicolas Dujovne September 4, 2018. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas
April 13, 2020
By Andrea Shalal
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The International Monetary Fund on Monday said it would provide immediate debt service relief to 25 member countries under its Catastrophe Containment and Relief Trust to allow them to focus more financial resources on fighting the coronavirus pandemic.
IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva said the Fund’s executive board on Monday approved the first batch of countries to receive grants to cover their debt service obligations to the Fund for an initial six months.
She said the CCRT currently had about $500 million in resources on hand, including new pledges of $185 million from Britain, $100 million from Japan, and undisclosed amounts from China, the Netherlands and others. The Fund is pushing to raise the amount available to $1.4 billion.
“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, Georgieva said in a statement.
She urged other donor countries to help replenish the CCRT and boost the Fund’s ability to provide additional debt service relief for a full two years to its poorest member countries.
The IMF in March approved changes that would allow the CCRT to provide up to two years of debt service relief to the Fund’s poorest members as they responded to the outbreak of COVID-19, the respiratory illness caused by the novel coronavirus.
More than 1.8 million people have been reported to be infected by the coronavirus globally and 115,242 have died, according to a Reuters tally.
A precursor of the CCRT was used for Haiti after the devastating earthquake that struck the island nation in 2010.
Renamed CCRT, it was also used to provide relief to countries affected by the 2014 Ebola outbreak.
The first countries that will receive debt service relief from the CCRT are Afghanistan, Benin, Burkina Faso, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, the Democratic Republic of 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, the IMF said.
(Reporting by Andrea Shalal; Editing by Chris Reese and Paul Simao)