Washington DC - IMF head Kristalina Georgieva warned that developing countries could face a second wave of economic crises just as they are recovering from the coronavirus pandemic. "... There is a need to reform the international debt 'architecture' ... to provide speedy and sufficiently deep debt relief to countries that need it, benefitting not only these countries but the system as a whole," wrote Georgieva and other top IMF officials in a Fund blog published Thursday.
"The IMF is declaring that global processes and policies must be reformed to address skyrocketing debt levels and countries facing debt crises," shared Eric LeCompte, the Executive Director of the religious development group Jubilee USA and a UN finance expert. "If we had better debt processes in place before the coronavirus struck, we may not have experienced an economic crisis of this magnitude."
In addition to international debt policy and process reforms, the Georgieva blog asserts the G20 should continue suspending debt payments for poor countries.
In April, the G20 agreed to the Debt Service Suspension Initiative, a process for the 73 poorest countries to stop paying debts through 2020. The initiative allowed 43 of the poorest countries to free $5.3 billion for health and social spending to respond to the pandemic. Without G20 action, the initiative expires at the end of the year.
"Unless we move forward additional aid and debt relief, too many countries could see lost decades of development," said LeCompte.
According to the IMF, about half of low-income countries faced severely high debt levels or financial crisis prior to the onslaught of COVID-19.
"Debt relief and aid needs to be increased and expanded to include more developing countries struggling to confront the health and economic impacts of the pandemic," noted LeCompte. "As we reform debt processes and policies to meet this current crisis, we must also strengthen processes to prepare us to combat future financial crises."
Read Georgieva's IMF blog here