COVID-19: African nations get $9.8bn as IMF supports 66 countries with $23bn

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has provided over $23 billion in emergency financial assistance and debt relief to 66 member countries facing the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

According to information sourced from IMF’s website on Thursday, sub-Saharan Africa got the highest support of $9.81 billion. The region is followed by Middle East and Central Asia which got $7.04 billion.

Western Hemisphere region got $4.5 billion, Asia and Pacific region got $1.124 billion and Europe got $1.034 billion.

IMF also approved total debt relief worth $229.31 million for 27 countries.

The managing director of IMF, Kristalina Georgieva, who described COVID-19 as a crisis like no other, said the pandemic had disrupted “our social and economic order at lightning speed and on a scale that we have not seen in living memory.

“The virus is causing tragic loss of life, and the lockdown needed to fight it has affected billions of people. What was normal just a few weeks ago—going to school, going to work, being with family and friends—is now a huge risk.”

According to her: “The IMF is responding to the coronavirus crisis with unprecedented speed and magnitude of financial assistance to help countries protect the lives and livelihoods of people, especially the most vulnerable. The Fund is at the centre of the global financial safety net – and is deploying its entire lending capacity of $1 trillion at the service of its membership.”

Georgieva said: “The IMF is responding to an unprecedented number of calls for emergency financing – from 102 countries so far. The Fund has doubled the access to its emergency facilities—the Rapid Credit Facility (RCF) and Rapid Financing Instrument (RFI) —allowing it to meet the expected demand of about $100 billion in financing. These facilities allow the Fund to provide emergency assistance without the need to have a full-fledged programme in place. Financing has already been approved by the IMF’s Executive Board at record speed for over 60 countries.”

She added that the IMF Executive Board had approved debt service relief to 27 countries under IMF’s revamped Catastrophe Containment and Relief Trust (CCRT) as part of its response to help address the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This provides grants to the Fund’s 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. The Fund is working to almost triple the CCRT from about $500 million to $1.4 billion to extend the duration of relief,” she said.

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