The International Monetary Fund on Monday announced a plan to provide immediate debt relief to 25 member countries, including 19 African states to allow them to focus more on the coronavirus pandemic.
According to the IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva, the Washington-based institution approved the first batch of countries to receive grants, under its Catastrophe Containment and Relief Trust (CCRT), to cover their debt service obligations to the IMF for an initial six months.
The Catastrophe Containment and Relief Trust 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.
About $215 million of the total would be used for grants to the first 25 countries over the next six months, the Fund said.
“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.
The beneficiary countries are Afghanistan, Benin, Burkina Faso, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, Democratic Republic of Congo, The Gambia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Haiti, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mozambique, Nepal, Niger, Rwanda, Sao Tome and Principe, Sierra Leone, Solomon Islands, Tajikistan, Togo, and Yemen.
The number of confirmed cases in Africa exceeded 15,600, while fatalities totaled 840 as of Tuesday April 14.
Last month, the IMF and the World Bank Group issued a joint call and 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 World Bank and IMF 2020 Spring meetings will take place virtually from April 17–19, 2020. G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors will meet virtually on April 15.