IMF Executive Board Extends Debt Service Relief for 28 Eligible Low-Income Countries


Tuesday, April 06, 2021 / 08:55 AM / By IMF / Header Image Credit: IMF

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The Executive Board of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) approved on April 1, 2021 a third tranche of grants for debt service relief for 28 member countries under the Catastrophe Containment and Relief Trust (CCRT). This approval follows two prior tranches approved on April 13, 2020 and October 2, 2020, respectively (see Press Releases 20/165 and 20/304). It enables the disbursement of grants from the CCRT for payment of all eligible debt service falling due to the IMF from its poorest and most vulnerable members from April 14, 2021 to October 15, 2021, estimated at SDR 168 (US$238) million. This tranche of grants for debt service relief will continue to help free up scarce financial resources for vital emergency health, social, and economic support to mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Subject to the availability of sufficient resources in the CCRT, debt service relief could be provided for the remaining period through from October 16, 2021 to April 13, 2022 amounting to a total of about SDR 680 (US$964) million.


In March 2020, Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva launched an urgent fundraising effort to raise SDR 1 billion (US$1.4 billion) in grants for the CCRT. This would enable the CCRT to provide financial assistance for relief on debt service for up to a maximum of two years, while leaving the CCRT adequately funded for future needs. Thus far, donors have pledged contributions totaling about SDR 545 million (US$774 million), including from the European Union, the UK, Japan, Germany, France, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Norway, Singapore, China, Mexico, Philippines, Sweden, Bulgaria, Luxembourg, and Malta.


Executive Board Assessment

Executive Directors welcomed the opportunity to consider the approval of grants under the Catastrophe Containment and Relief Trust (CCRT) to support the third tranche of debt service relief for the Fund's poorest and most vulnerable members. They noted that the COVID-19 pandemic continues to exact a severe human and economic toll on these countries and that the resources freed up by the first and second tranches of CCRT debt service relief had helped mitigate the impact of the pandemic.


Directors agreed that the available resources and pledges are sufficient to finance the third tranche of debt service relief for the period from April 14 to October 15, 2021. Accordingly, they approved grant assistance under the CCRT for relief for 28 eligible members that have debt service falling due during this period.


Directors concurred that countries that received the CCRT grants for debt relief are generally pursuing appropriate macroeconomic policies in response to the economic fallout from the global pandemic. They welcomed that a number of member countries were transitioning to Upper Credit Tranche-quality arrangements which would provide a stronger policy framework for the recovery period. Directors also observed that most countries would benefit from a resumption of Fund surveillance and updated debt sustainability assessments.


Directors noted the progress made in implementing governance safeguards commitments regarding COVID-19 related spending in CCRT-eligible countries. However, they regretted implementation delays in some countries, particularly in disclosing beneficial ownership information on entities awarded government contracts. Directors thus underscored the importance of continued follow-through on the commitments on governance and transparency, supported if necessary, by technical assistance.


Directors welcomed the generous contributions that enabled debt relief through the third tranche, and many Directors noted the recent large contribution by the European Union. Directors stressed, however, that additional resources will be needed to provide the CCRT grants for debt relief beyond the proposed third tranche. Directors also stressed that efforts to secure additional resources to reach the funding target of SDR 1 billion should continue to ensure that adequate grant resources are in place for other CCRT-qualifying shocks in the future.

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