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The International Monetary Fund building in Washington, DC, USA (File photo)

Region to hold conference call with IMF amid COVID-19

The International Monetary Fund building in Washington, DC, USA (File photo)

St Lucia’s Prime Minister Allen Chastanet Tuesday announced that the International Monetary Fund (IMF) will hold a conference call with regional countries on Monday, March 16, to discuss the economic impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19).

Prime Minister of St Lucia Allen Chastanet (File photo)

Chastanet said as his administration prepares to present the 2020-21 national budget “we are also monitoring what is happening on the world stage.

“The economic fallout in the last couple of days in the global stock market; which is a result of the continued spread of coronavirus, as well as the oil price war which has now erupted between Russia and Saudi Arabia. This has created economic anxiety.

The seal of the International Monetary Fund at its headquarters building in Washington, DC.

“Hence we are in dialogue with the Central Bank, the World Bank, the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) and the IMF, on what measures and mechanisms we can put in place in order to maintain the confidence of the business community. A conference call with the IMF is scheduled with the region for Monday next week,” he told legislators.

Last week, the Washington-based financial institution said it would make available US$50 billion to help countries address the COVID-19.

People wearing protective masks walk at Hong Kong Station of MTR on February 11.

Chastanet said the government would “have to delay the budget presentation until we have a full picture of the economic implications in order that our numbers can be adjusted to the new normal”.

He said that the Ministry of Finance will present him with a report by Wednesday “with possible ways we can support the tourism industry and the economy.

“I can report that we have run several different models in order to predict and prepare for the fall out, in particular with regard to tourism arrivals. We will not be caught off guard,” Chastanet said, disclosing earlier “we have had to make difficult decisions as it pertain to cruise ship calls to Port Castries.