WASHINGTON/LONDON (Reuters) – The international community must do more to tackle the economic fallout of the COVID-19 crisis, the head of the International Monetary Fund said on Monday, publicly calling on the World Bank to accelerate its lending to hard-hit African countries.
Some of the key events of the virtual and elongated annual meetings of the IMF and World Bank take place this week, with the most pressing issue how to support struggling countries.
“We are going to continue to push to do even more,” IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva said during an online FT Africa summit.
“I would beg for also more grants for African countries. The World Bank has grant-giving capacity. Perhaps you can do even more… and bilateral donors can do more in that regard,” Georgieva said in an unusual public display of discord between the two major international financial institutions.
No immediate comment was available from the Bank.
Georgieva last week said the IMF had provided $26 billion in fast-track support to African states since the start of the crisis, but a dearth of private lending meant the region faced a financing gap of $345 billion through 2023.
The pandemic, a collapse in commodity prices and a plague of locusts have hit Africa particularly hard, putting 43 million more people at risk of extreme poverty, according to World Bank estimates. African states have reported more than 1 million coronavirus cases and some 23,000 deaths.
G20 governments are expected to extend for six months their Debt Service Suspension Initiative (DSSI) which has so far frozen around $5 billion of poorer countries’ debt payments, but pressure is