President of the World Bank Group (WBG) David Malpass has urged G20 countries to suspend all repayments of bilateral credit for poorest countries, to help them combat the economic impacts of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
“These are difficult times for all, especially for the poorest and most vulnerable,” he said in his conference call with G20 Finance Ministers on COVID-19 on Monday evening, calling for stepped-up international support for these countries.
“The first goal of the WBG is to provide prompt support during the crisis, based on a country’s needs. It’s also vital to shorten the time to recovery and create confidence that the recovery can be strong,” Malpass added.
Coronavirus crisis will likely hit hardest against the poorest and most vulnerable countries, those roughly 25 poorest countries drawing on the International Development Association (IDA), he further added.
“I urge all official bilateral creditors of the poorest countries to act with immediate effect to help IDA countries through debt relief, allowing the countries to concentrate their resources on fighting the pandemic,” he said.
Malpass stated that countries need to move fast to boost health spending, strengthen social safety nets, support the private sector, and counter financial-market disruption.
“Countries will need to implement structural reforms to help shorten the time to recovery and create confidence that the recovery can be strong. For those countries that have excessive regulations, subsidies, licensing regimes, trade protection or litigiousness as obstacles, we will work with them to foster markets, choice and faster growth prospects during the recovery.”
Earlier in March, WBG approved additional $2bn to its previously announced commitment of $12bn, increasing their commitment to $14bn package of fast-track financing to assist companies and countries in their efforts to prevent, detect, and respond to the rapid spread of COVID-19.