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IMF Providing Debt Relief To Help 25 Countries Deal With Pandemic

Afghan National Army personnel spray disinfectant during a lockdown in Jalalabad on April 9.
Afghan National Army personnel spray disinfectant during a lockdown in Jalalabad on April 9.

The International Monetary Fund says it will provide immediate debt service relief to 25 of its poorer member states so they can focus more financial resources on fighting the coronavirus pandemic.

IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva said the IMF's executive board on April 13 approved the first group of countries that will receive grants to cover their debt-service obligations to the IMF for an initial six months.

They include Afghanistan and Tajikistan, as well as war-torn Yemen and debt-stricken countries in Africa and Asia.

Georgieva said the IMF's Catastrophe Containment and Relief Trust (CCRT) currently has about $500 million in resources available, including new pledges of $185 million from Britain, $100 million from Japan, and undisclosed amounts from China, the Netherlands, and others.

The IMF is pushing to raise its available resources to $1.4 billion.

"This provides grants to our poorest and most vulnerable members to cover their IMF debt obligations for an initial phase over the next six months and will help them channel more of their scarce financial resources towards vital emergency medical and other relief efforts," Georgieva said.

More than 1.9 million people have been reported to be infected by the coronavirus globally and more than 119,000 have died, a tally kept by Johns Hopkins University said early on April 14.

Based on reporting by Reuters, AP, and AFP
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