50 countries to benefit from World Bank COVID-19 finance by mid-2021

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World Bank will provide 50 countries with finance to buy COVID-19 vaccines by mid-2021, David Malpass, World Bank Group President, has said.

Mr Malpass announced on Wednesday in Washington D. C. during a news conference at the ongoing 2021 Spring Meetings which began on Monday.

For the first time in the bank’s history, the president said it topped $100 billion in commitments over 12 months.

He added that there had been a big surge in growth in the group’s activities in response to COVID-19.

On addressing debt issues for developing countries, he said the group was working actively in collaboration with the International Monetary Fund on the common framework that the G20 established for dealing with debt overhang and debt burdens.

“The G20 has, I think, in the deliberations this week, a call for the first creditor committee to be formed under the common framework.

“And the question is aimed at the middle-income countries, many of them face access problems to market-based finance, and they also have rising fiscal deficits that are problematic.

“So, I think, again, I am going to fall back that transparency is very important. I think also we need to look for a more balanced relationship between creditors and debtors.”

Mr Malpass noted that the challenge facing middle-income countries was collateralised debt, making it hard to restructure.

He explained, “We are making some progress on debt transparency, though collateralisation of debt remains a problem and non-disclosure clause by some creditors remains a problem.

“There’s full recognition of the debt problem facing the poor countries. I welcome that. I mentioned International Development Association (IDA) 20 earlier.”

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Mr Malpass also said the bank had plans to reduce global poverty for development and a focus, country-by-country, to see the developing world do better in 2022.

He stated that would mean having a better response to climate change that was underway, better education, and health care systems.

According to him, the bank’s commitments grew a record amount in per cent terms and dollar terms in 2020.

In 2020, the bank was up 65 per cent from 2019 in terms of International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) and IDA commitments.

He added that it was continuing to expand the bank’s commitment capacity and that IDA 20, the acceleration of the next replenishment cycle of IDA, would help with that.

The bank’s president stated, “All of these go together to the idea that we are trying to achieve transformative, scalable change for people that live in poorer countries.

“That can take the form of better rule of law, better access to the legal system for women, for girls in the education system.

“The health care systems need to be improved and be more available to people.

“Critically, access to electricity and to clean water are huge challenges for people in poverty and for people even trying to move up in the income scale.”

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