IMF to help low-income member states with $10bn zero rates-funds to combat COVID-19

Hagar Omran
3 Min Read

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) stands ready to offer $10bn to low-income member states through concessional financing facilities, which carry zero interest rates, to help them combat the novel Coronavirus (COVID-19),  IMF’s managing director, Kristalina Georgieva, said on Monday .

The Fund can also mobilise its $1trn lending capacity to help members overcome COVID-19, Georgieva added, noting that as a first line of defence, the IMF can deploy its flexible and rapid-disbursing emergency response toolkit to help countries with urgent balance of payment needs while these instruments could provide in the order of $50bn to emerging and developing economies.

The Fund already has 40 ongoing arrangements, both disbursing and precautionary, with combined commitments of about $200bn, Georgieva said, adding that in many cases, these arrangements can provide another vehicle for the rapid disbursement of crisis financing.

The IMF received interest from about 20 more countries and will be following up with them in the coming days, she said, adding that the Fund’s Catastrophe Containment and Relief Trust (CCRT) can help the poorest countries with immediate debt relief which will free up vital resources for health spending, containment, and mitigation.

“I commend the United Kingdom’s recent pledge of $195m, which means the CCRT now has about $400m available for potential debt relief. Our aim, with the help of other donors, is to boost it to $1bn,” she said.

Only through sharing, coordination, and cooperation, countries will be able to stabilise the global economy and return it to its full health, she added, noting  that the IMF seeks to serve all its 189 member countries and demonstrate the value of international cooperation.

While quarantining and social distancing is the right prescription to combat COVID-19’s public health impact, the exact opposite is needed when it comes to securing the global economy, she said, adding that constant contact and close coordination are the best medicine to ensure that the economic pain inflicted by the virus is relatively short-lived.

Many governments have already taken significant steps, with major measures being announced on a daily basis, “even more needs to be done. As the virus spreads, increased coordinated action will be key to boosting confidence and providing stability to the global economy,” she said.

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