Nineteen African countries have had reprieve from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) as part of measures to enable them to channel their resources into fighting the coronavirus pandemic.
Africa has so far confirmed over 10,000 COVID-19 cases, 1,957 recoveries and 498 deaths, according to the WHO.
The Bretton Woods institution in a statement said the debt service relief takes immediate effect for an initial period of six months.
The beneficiary countries are Burkina Faso, Chad, Central African Republic, Mozambique and Benin. Others are Comoros, Democratic Republic of Congo, The Gambia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Niger, Rwanda, São Tomé and Príncipe, Sierra Leone and Togo.
The fund’s managing director, Ms. Kristalina Georgieva, said the grant falls under the IMF’s Catastrophe Containment and Relief Trust.
“Today, I am pleased to say that our Executive Board approved immediate debt service relief to 25 of the IMF’s member countries under the IMF’s revamped Catastrophe Containment and Relief Trust (CCRT) as part of the Fund’s response to help address the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Ms. Kristalina Georgieva said.
She noted the grant was made available only to the “poorest” and “most vulnerable” IMF members.
“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,” the statement noted.
“The CCRT can currently provide about US$500 million in grant-based debt service relief, including the recent US$185 million pledge by the U.K. and US$100 million provided by Japan as immediately available resources. Others, including China and the Netherlands, are also stepping forward with important contributions. I urge other donors to help us replenish the Trust’s resources and boost further our ability to provide additional debt service relief for a full two years to our poorest member countries,” Ms. Kristalina Georgieva noted.
The donors to the CCRT fund include the UK, China, Japan and the Netherlands.