Seventy member countries will have received loans totalling $250 billion under the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) emergency facilities to address the COVID-19 crisis by Friday, up from 60 countries two weeks ago, IMF spokesman Gerry Rice said.
Rice said that $7 billion in rapid finance instrument loans had been given to 12 countries in the Middle East, while 28 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa have received total loans worth $10 billion under the same instrument.
Rice, who made his comments during a regular IMF press briefing, clarified that the funds are being disbursed under the rapid finance instrument (RFI), which provides loans for countries that have been hit by the crisis, without bearing the traditional conditionalities under other facility instruments.
The sums are disbursed at one time in order to back cash liquidity for the countries’ markets.
The loans that have been provided to sub-Saharan African countries are ten times what the IMF has been providing for the region so far, due to the impacts of the COVID-19 crisis.
Rice added that the IMF’s financing for low-income countries has tripled on the back of the crisis, as 28 of the poorest countries have received grants from the IMF to address the impact of the coronavirus on their economies.
He also said that 40 countries have filed for the debt suspension initiative that has been adopted by the IMF and the World Bank.
On 25 March, the IMF and the World Bank launched an initiative aimed at suspending debt payments from the poorest countries amid the severe impacts of the pandemic.
Speaking about Lebanon, Rice stressed that the negotiations between the IMF and Lebanese authorities are ongoing regarding designing a loan programme amid the country’s economic collapse.
He added that the Lebanese government needs to implement comprehensive, equitable reforms in many areas.
He said that the new IMF global economic outlook, which was revised in light of the crisis updates, is scheduled to be released on Wednesday, while the revised financial stability report will be released on Thursday.
The IMF has 189 member countries in total.