The International Monetary Fund (IMF) headquarters building is seen ahead of the IMF/World Bank spring meetings in Washington, April 8, 2019. (Photo: Agencies)
WASHINGTON - The International Monetary Fund (IMF) is making available about $50 billion through its rapid-disbursing emergency financing facilities for low-income and emerging market countries in light of the COVID-19 outbreak, the multilateral lender announced Wednesday.
"We know that the disease is spreading quickly. With over one-third of our membership affected directly, this is no longer a regional issue -- it is a global problem calling for a global response," IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva said at a joint press conference with World Bank Group President David Malpass.
"Under any scenario, global growth in 2020 will drop below last year's level," said Georgieva.
In January, the IMF had projected global growth to improve to 3.3 percent this year from 2.9 percent last year. Then in February, it revised down 2020 global growth to 3.2 percent.
Dropping below last year's level means further downgrading of global growth forecast.
The IMF chief said she is "particularly concerned about our low-income and more vulnerable members -- these countries may see financing needs rise rapidly as the economic and human cost of the virus escalates."
For low-income countries, the IMF has rapid-disbursing emergency financing of up to $10 billion (50 percent of quota of eligible members) that can be accessed without a full-fledged IMF program, according to Georgieva.
Other members can access emergency financing through the Rapid Financing Instrument, which could provide about $40 billion for emerging markets that "could potentially approach us for financial support," she said.
The IMF chief added that the Catastrophe Containment and Relief Trust, which proved to be effective during the 2014 Ebola outbreak, is now underfunded with just over $200 million available against possible needs of over $1 billion.
"I called on member countries to help ensure that this facility is fully re-charged and ready for the current crisis," she said.