Coronavirus: Over 300 lawmakers urge IMF, World Bank to cancel poor countries’ debt

People work in a sawmill overlooking downtown Lagos in Nigeria.
Sunday Alamba/AP

Date Published: May 13, 2020

Source: Global News

On May 13, 300 lawmakers from around the world, led by former US presidential candidate Senator Bernie Sanders and Representative Ilham Omar, have urged the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank to cancel the debt in the poorest countries and boost international funding in order to avert a global economic meltdown and prevent millions from going into poverty. In their joint letter, they argue that widespread shutdowns aimed at containing COVID-19 are taking a large toll on the global economy, especially in poor countries with weak health systems, high debt levels, and few options to manage dual health and economic crises. The IMF has previously announced that it will cover the debt service payments of 25 of the poorest countries for 6 months, but has recently stated that developing countries would need more than $2.5 trillion in financing to weather the storm. The World Bank has said it will look at ways to expand its support for the poorest countries, but warned that waiving debt payments could harm its credit rating and undercut its ability to provide low-cost funding to its members.

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Summary by: Sophia Duong