To help address the impact of the COVID-19 crisis, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) approved immediate debt service relief for 25 countries on Monday.
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The decision will allow "a greater share of scarce financial resources to be channeled to the health sector in these times of pandemic," IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva said in a statement.
It is expected that the immediate debt service relief will provide grants to the poorest and most vulnerable for an initial phase over the next six months, according to Georgieva.
The IMF's revamped Catastrophe Containment and Relief Trust can currently provide about US$500 million in grant-based debt service relief.
"Good news: the IMF approves a debt relief program for 25 countries. More will be needed soon. If not, the economic and health crisis could reverse decades of progress in living conditions in poor countries. But it is a good step."
The beneficiary countries are Afghanistan, Benin, Burkina Faso, Chad, Comoros, Gambia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Haiti, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mozambique, Nepal and Solomon Islands.
Also included are Central African Republic, Niger, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda, Sao Tome and Principe, Sierra Leone, Solomon Islands, Tajikistan, Togo and Yemen.
In March, the IMF and the World Bank urged creditors to suspend debt payments to the world's poorest countries.