The World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) have joined forces to address challenges presented by Coronavirus, otherwise called COVID-19.
In a joint statement from the two institutions, the head of both wrote: “The IMF and the World Bank Group stand ready to help our member countries address the human tragedy and economic challenge posed by the COVID-19 virus. We are engaged actively with international institutions and country authorities, with special attention to poor countries where health systems are the weakest and people are most vulnerable.”
In particular, the World Bank and IMF are working closely with the World Health Organization and Asian Development Bank, among other health officials, to provide timely policy advice, technical assistance, and financial support.
In terms of financial support, the global financial institutions stated that they will make available “rapid financing facilities that, collectively, can help countries respond to a wide range of needs.
According to the IMF, the Rapid Credit Facility (RCF) and Rapid Financing Instrument (RFI) provide emergency financial assistance to member countries without implementing full-fledged programmes.
As such, the institution can rapidly disburse loans in order to assist member countries implement policies to address emergencies such as COVID-19.
In 2016, for example, the IMF granted an RFI emergency loan to Ecuador after one of the strongest earthquakes in decades. Furthermore, it responded quickly to the outbreak of Ebola in 2014, providing financial aid to Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone.
In addition to the RFI and RCF, the IMF can provide debt relief to the poorest, worst affected countries through the Catastrophe Containment and Relief Trust. The fund’s Standby Arrangement is another facility that addresses member countries’ with dire financial needs.
“The strengthening of country health surveillance and response systems is crucial to contain the spread of this and any future outbreaks,” the World Bank and IMF noted.
“International cooperation is essential to deal with the health and economic impact of the COVID-19 virus. The IMF and the World Bank Group are fully committed to provide the support that people in our member countries expect from us,” the statement ended.