The Executive Board of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) approved on Monday an immediate debt relief for 25 member countries with the aim of facing the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in those nations.
These countries will receive financial aid from a catastrophe fund that will allow them to meet their debt obligations to the IMF for at least the next six months.
The majority of the beneficiary countries belong to Africa: Benin, Burkina Faso, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, Demotratic Republic of the Congo, Gambia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mozambique, Niger, Rwanda, Santo Tome and Principe, Sierra Leone and Togo.
Afghanistan, Haiti, Nepal, Solomon Islands, Tajikistan and Yemen complete the list.
Called the Disaster Relief and Containment Fund (CCRT), this relief fund is initially worth $ 500 million and is funded by donations from member countries.
The UK has provided $ 185 million and Japan $ 100 million, while China and the Netherlands have also pledged donations.
IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva explained in a statement that this fund provides aid to “the poorest and most vulnerable members to cover their debt obligations to the IMF during an initial phase over the next six months.”
These grants, Georgieva argued, “will help them channel more of their meager financial resources into vital emergency medical and other relief efforts.”
The Fund’s managing director also called on the rest of the countries to contribute resources to the CCRT so that the debt relief period is extended from the current six months to a two-year target.
Most of the 25 countries benefiting from debt relief have reported few cases of COVID-19, with Afghanistan and Niger, with 665 and 529 positives, respectively, the most affected.
The coronavirus pandemic has so far left nearly 2 million infections and more than 118,000 deaths, according to the latest data from Johns Hopkins University.