Liberia to Benefit US$350M from IMF US$16Bn Aid to Poor Countries for Post-Covid Recovery

MONROVIA – Liberia is expected to benefit about US$350 million of the US$650 billion backed by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to help poor countries.

The amount is expected to boost Liberia’s reserve and support economic growth through infrastructure investment in post-Covid-19 era and support fight against Covid-19 through vaccinations.

The IMF aid fund will also help to liquidate both domestic debt as a form of economic stimulus and to pay down some debts to the IMF.

The Liberian government led by the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning with negotiate with the IMF the uses of the fund.

However, FrontPageAfrica further gathered that the money would be given to the Central Bank of Liberia and the non-reserve portion on lent to the fiscal authority.

The IMF’s decision comes at a pivotal moment as Covid-19 infections continue to spread among populations that have not been inoculated and as more contagious variants of the coronavirus are posing new health threats. The pandemic has drained the fiscal resources of poor countries over the past year, and the I.M.F. projected this week that faster access to vaccinations for high-risk populations could save 500,000 lives in the next six months.

The new allocation of so-called Special Drawing Rights would be the largest such expansion of currency reserves in the I.M.F.’s history. If approved by the group’s board of governors, as is expected, the reserves could become available by the end of next month.

“This is a shot in the arm for the world,” Kristalina Georgieva, managing director of the I.M.F., said in a statement. “The S.D.R. allocation will help every I.M.F. member country — particularly vulnerable countries — and strengthen their response to the Covid-19 crisis.”

Ms. Georgieva made the announcement as finance ministers and central bank governors of the Group of 20 nations were gathering in Venice to discuss international tax policy, climate change and the global economic response to the pandemic. The I.M.F., established in 1944 to try to broker economic cooperation, has warned of a two-track economic recovery, with poor countries being left behind while advanced economies experience rapid expansions.

Ahead of the meetings, Treasury Department officials said expanding access to vaccines would be a central topic of discussion. It is also a potentially contentious one, as some developing countries have suggested that advanced economies are not doing enough to ensure fair distribution of vaccines.

“The immediate priority for developing countries is widespread access to vaccines that match their deployment programs,” David Malpass, president of the World Bank, said in a speech in Venice on Friday.

Mr. Malpass called on G20 countries to share doses and remove all trade barriers to exporting finished vaccines and their components. He noted that the pandemic had aggravated structural weaknesses that had dogged developing countries for years.

“Even as that is accomplished,” Mr. Malpass said of expanded vaccine distribution, “development faces years of setback and struggle.”

Narrowing the gap between the fortunes of advanced and developing economies was a central topic on the first day of the G20 meetings in Venice. Bruno Le Maire, France’s finance minister, told reporters on Friday that inequality was a risk to the stability and security of Europe that could lead to an influx of refugees. He argued that it must be urgently addressed.

It remains to be seen how far the $650 billion will go to help developing countries as they race to vaccinate people before new variants of the virus take hold, including the Delta variant, which has plunged many countries back into a health crisis.

The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development called this year for $1 trillion worth of Special Drawing Rights to be made available by the I.M.F. as a “helicopter money drop for those being left behind.”

Jubilee USA Network, a nonprofit organization that advocates debt relief for poor countries, praised the move by the I.M.F. and called on wealthy countries to do more to help.

“This is the biggest creation of emergency reserve funds that we’ve ever seen, and developing countries will immediately receive more than $200 billion,” said Eric LeCompte, executive director of Jubilee USA Network. “Wealthy countries who receive emergency reserves they don’t need should transfer those resources to developing countries struggling through the pandemic.”

The I.M.F., the World Bank, the World Health Organization and the World Trade Organization have created a new vaccine task force and called for an additional $50 billion investment to broaden access to supplies. The groups have also called on G20 countries to set a goal of having 40 percent of their populations vaccinated by the end of this year and 60 percent by the middle of next year.

The United States has thrown its support behind the expansion of the I.M.F. reserves, reversing a Trump administration policy and angering Republican lawmakers in the process.

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