As Coronavirus Spreads, IMF Cancels 6 Months of Debt for Poorest Countries

Washington DC -  The board of the International Monetary Fund approved $500 million through the IMF Catastrophe Containment and Relief Trust to cancel 6 months of debt service for Afghanistan, Benin, Burkina Faso, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, Congo, D.R., The Gambia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Haiti, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mozambique, Nepal, Niger, Rwanda, São Tomé and Príncipe, Sierra Leone, Solomon Islands, Tajikistan, Togo and Yemen.

Eric LeCompte the Executive Director of Jubilee USA Network and a United Nations Finance Expert, releases the following statement on the announcement:

"This is an incredibly positive step. These countries need to bolster their health systems right away and cancellation of debt for 6 months will help these countries.

"Many of these countries have less than 50 critical care unit beds per country.

"All of the countries could benefit from more than just a 6-month debt cancellation. As the poorest countries in the world, they really need full cancellation.

"While we encourage more countries to donate money to this IMF trust, the IMF also needs to use its own resources.

"When this trust was used previously, the IMF sold gold in its reserve. Currently, there is $140 billion in this reserve and even selling ten billion could get us closer for debt cancellation for these countries and others.

"We worked on this mechanism since 2010 and every time it's been used, it's been critical for protecting some of the world's poorest people.

"What strikes me most is that the four countries who previously received grants and debt relief from this trust are benefiting from it again. Haiti, Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia are again receiving this critical relief and this says something about lending and the fragility of some of the world's poorest countries. Out of this current crisis we need to find ways to move these countries out of poverty and on a permanent path to prosperity."

Read the IMF's Release on the Debt Relief here

Read Jubilee USA's March 23rd letter to IMF on a health and economic COVID-19 plan  here

Read Jubilee USA's April 1st letter to the IMF on reserve gold funds here