Over 100 countries have reached out to the IMF for help to fight the pandemic—from Afghanistan to Nigeria to Haiti—with 50+ requests swiftly approved for a total of about US$18b. Against this backdrop, IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva was interviewed by Julie Etchingham of ITV News during which she said, “The only thing we ask countries is please spend more money for your doctors and nurses – and please, please use the money to protect the most vulnerable.”
For a more regional discussion of how the IMF is providing COVID-19 relief to Africa, watch Managing Director Georgieva’s 20-min interview with CNBC.
Interested in the impact of the pandemic on the Middle East and Central Asia? Listen to our newest podcast with the IMF’s Jihad Azour. This region in particular is facing a multilevel shock from COVID-19, as low oil prices have compounded the economic impact on both oil- and non-oil-producing countries.
When the Great Lockdown finally ends, a strong economic recovery that benefits everyone will depend on improved social safety nets and broad-based fiscal support. This includes public investment in health care, infrastructure, and climate change. Countries with high debt levels will have to carefully balance short-term fiscal support for the recovery stage with long-term debt sustainability. Learn more in a new blog by Vitor Gaspar, W. Raphael Lam, and Mehdi Raissi. You can also view the 15-min video discussion on Twitter between IMF’s Catherine Pattillo and Time Magazine’s Justin Worland on this topic.
The pandemic has also highlighted the role of the public sector in saving lives and livelihoods. State-owned enterprises are part of that effort. They can be public utilities that provide essential services. Or public banks that provide loans to small businesses. But some are also struggling and adding to the burden on government finances. These range from national oil companies that are dealing with a large fall in oil prices, to national airlines without enough passengers traveling. How have state-owned enterprises evolved in recent decades? Learn more in a new blog by Vitor Gaspar, Paulo Medas, and John Ralyea. You can also view the 15-minute video discussion on Twitter between IMF’s Paolo Mauro and FT’s Europe Editor Ben Hall on how countries can get the most out of these enterprises.
In other IMF news, yesterday the Executive Board approved its 50th COVID-19 emergency financing package—US$214 million to help Nepal address urgent balance of payments needs created by the pandemic, which is having a severe impact on remittances, tourism, and domestic activity, and will substantially weaken Nepal’s GDP growth.
The IMF also recently approved US$411 million in emergency assistance for Ethiopia. Fikadu Digafe Huriso, Vice Governor and Chief Economist of the National Bank of Ethiopia, writes in a new IMF article that, “The Jobs Creation Commission has estimated that close to 1.4 million workers will be affected by the pandemic, particularly in the service and manufacturing sectors.”
Turning to Europe, IMF’s mission chief for The Netherlands, Alfredo Cuevas, digs deeperinto how The Netherlands has one of the most internationally integrated economies in the world, and why this interdependence makes the country especially vulnerable to a global crisis like the COVID-19 pandemic.