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The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has provided a total of $100 billion concessionary loans to Nigeria and 79 other global economies to reduce the impact of COVID-19 on their people and economies, the multilateral institutions said yesterday.

Nigeria, had at the heat of the pandemic in April, received $3.4 billion emergency loan from the Fund to support the economy and stabilize financial system. The five-year loan was the largest emergency loan yet by the Fund to an African country’s bid to contain the pandemic.

In a report released at the end of the 2020 IMF/World Bank virtual Annual Meetings, which ended yesterday, in Washington DC, the Development Committee of Joint Ministerial Committee of the Board of Governors of World Bank and IMF said the COVID-19 pandemic continues to devastate countries, overwhelming health systems, disrupting productivity, threatening food security, multiplying job losses, and reducing incomes, particularly for the most vulnerable.

The group commended the IMF for its rapid and effective crisis response, which has provided some $100 billion in assistance to over 80 countries during the pandemic, primarily through emergency financing facilities.

“We call on the IMF to continue to deploy all available tools and resources to help members achieve a durable exit from the crisis while building more resilient and inclusive economies.

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“We commend and support the frontline workers who are fighting the pandemic and keeping economic activity and critical services open. The global crisis requires a comprehensive, robust global response from the development community. We will continue working with member countries, the public and private sectors, local and bilateral development partners, and international organizations, including the UN,” the group said.

The World Bank Group was advised to further the response while keeping a firm focus on the twin goals of ending extreme poverty and fostering shared prosperity in a sustainable manner, while supporting progress toward the Sustainable Development Goals.

“We commend the WBG for the speed and scale of its COVID-19 response across countries. The WBG has been at the forefront of multilateral efforts centering on relief, restructuring, and a resilient recovery. We welcome the focus on health, social, and economic responses, as well as policies, institutions, and investments that will be critical to resilient, inclusive, and sustainable recovery,” the group said.

The World Bank Group was advised to assist with affordable and equitable access to tests, treatments, and vaccines for developing countries. As the COVID-19 crisis continues to present wide-ranging health, economic, and social challenges over a prolonged period, we encourage intensified action to build robust health systems with universal coverage, thus increasing preparedness and resilience against future pandemics.

In this context, digital technologies can secure vital medical consultations, maintain educational services, and allow businesses to survive. We thus welcome WBG operations that are expanding digital connectivity while safeguarding security and data privacy, broadening the reach of digital financial services and supporting digital transformation.

These efforts help firms adapt to the crisis, be more competitive, maintain employment and continue the delivery of critical services, including in education, health, social protection and access to finance.

Both institutions were asked to help countries rebuild better, focusing on promoting the building blocks for an inclusive and sustainable recovery, ensuring affordable energy access and energy security, and addressing the challenges to economic and environmental vulnerabilities, including climate change.

The group also commented the World Bank Group for its exceptional delivery in the final quarter of fiscal year 2020, with $45 billion in commitments, including via their fast-track facilities, for operations in more than 100 countries.

The group also supported the extension of the Debt Service Suspension Initiative (DSSI) by six months and to examine, by the time of the 2021 WBG and IMF Spring Meetings.

“We encourage the WBG and IMF to continue to review the debt challenges of low-income countries and propose actions to address their fiscal and debt stress on a case-by-case basis. We also continue to encourage the WBG and IMF to review the debt challenges of middle-income countries and to explore customized solutions to their fiscal and debt stress on a case-by-case basis, including by providing additional resources in these challenging times, in line with the capital package commitments,” the group said.

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