IMF approves largest expansion to fight pandemic

Photo: AP Kristalina Georgieva

The executive board of the International Monetary Fund approved on Friday a $650bn expansion in resources in an effort to support economically vulnerable nations as they battle the Covid-19 pandemic. As noted by IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva, that the new support is the largest such expansion in the history of the 190-nation lending institution but it would be a “shot in the arm for the world.”

It is a reversal of the stance taken by the Trump administration and it began in February when the Biden administration got behind the effort. Republican members of Congress have objected to the funding, saying that the expanded IMF resources would benefit US adversaries such as China, Russia and Iran. However, the assistance has been strongly supported by international relief agencies.

Eric LeCompte, executive director of the religious-affiliated development group Jubilee USA Network, said that the IMF action would allow developing countries to immediately receive more than $200bn in support.

“Wealthy countries who receive emergency reserves they don’t need should transfer those resources to developing countries struggling through the pandemic,” LeCompte told AP.

More than six months after vaccines became available, reported Covid-19 deaths worldwide have fallen to about 7,800 each day, after topping out at over 18,000 a day in January. The World Health Organization recorded just under 54,000 deaths last week, the lowest weekly total since last October.

However, Covid-19 has illuminated global inequities as deaths worldwide climbed to 4 million, a milestone recorded Wednesday by Johns Hopkins University. Vaccination drives are barely getting started in Africa and other desperately poor corners of the world because of extreme shortages of shots.

To fund the spending, the IMF will expand its Special Drawing Rights, a currency reserve that can be tapped by IMF member countries.

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