Corona outbreak forces IMF, World Bank to hold spring meetings virtually

Doaa A.Moneim , Wednesday 4 Mar 2020

The World Bank has announced a package of emergency funding for developing countries to respond to the spread of the Coronavirus

A woman wearing a face mask pulls a trolley as she crosses the road near showrooms of car dealerships, as the country is hit by an outbreak of the novel coronavirus, in Beijing, China (Reuters)

Amid the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) global outbreak, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank have decided to hold their spring meetings virtually, using telecommunications capabilities instead of live meetings, according to a joint statement issued Tuesday.

The spring meetings are expected to be held 17-19 April in Washington.

IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva and World Bank President David Malpass said that the two institutions stand ready to help their member countries address the human tragedy and economic challenges posed by the COVID-19 virus.

“We are engaged actively with international institutions and country authorities, with special attention to poor countries where health systems are the weakest and people are most vulnerable,” the joint statement added.

“We will use our available instruments to the fullest extent possible, including emergency financing, policy advice, and technical assistance. In particular, we have rapid financing facilities that, collectively, can help countries respond to a wide range of needs. The strengthening of country health surveillance and response systems is crucial to contain the spread of this and any future outbreaks.

The statement asserted that international cooperation is essential to cope with the health and economic impacts of the COVID-19 virus.

Meanwhile, the World Bank announced Tuesday that it has allocated an initial package of up to $12 billion in immediate support to assist developing countries to counter the health and economic impacts of the global outbreak.

According to a statement sent to Ahram Online, the COVID-19 support package comprises up to $2.7 billion in new financing from the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD), $1.3 billion from the International Development Association (IDA), and reprioritisation of $2 billion of the Bank’s existing portfolio, in addition to $6 billion from the International Finance Corporation (IFC), including $2 billion from existing trade facilities.

The package will provide grants and low-interest loans from the IDA for low income countries and loans from the IBRD for middle income countries, using all of the Bank’s operational instruments on a fast track basis.

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