by Agence France-Presse, 24 Dec 2021
Washington – The International Monetary Fund (IMF) said it had approved the fifth and final round of debt relief under a program meant to help the world’s poorest nations weather the Covid-19 pandemic.
The $115 million in relief under the Washington-based crisis lender’s Catastrophe Containment and Relief Trust (CCRT) affects debt service payments falling due for 25 member states between Jan. 11 and April 13 of next year, the IMF said in a statement.
In the statement, the IMF said its directors view the CCRT relief as having “helped its poorest and most vulnerable members to free up resources to tackle the pandemic and its repercussions,” though they warn not all money pledged for the trust has been received.
The CCRT enables the IMF to provide grants to the poorest and most vulnerable countries hit by a natural disaster or public health crisis, and was tapped by the fund in April 2020 to aid the response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Meanwhile, the World Economic Forum (WEF) said it “will defer its annual meeting in Davos… in the light of continued uncertainty over the Omicron” variant of coronavirus.
The high-powered meeting scheduled for Jan. 17-21, which usually draws leading figures from business, politics and diplomacy, will instead be held in “early summer,” the organizers said.
Last year’s edition was cancelled because of the pandemic and Swiss authorities have recently stepped up health restrictions sharply to control a fifth coronavirus wave.
“Despite the meeting’s stringent health protocols, the transmissibility of Omicron and its impact on travel and mobility have made deferral necessary,” the WEF said.
The body will instead organize online “State of the World” sessions to get global leaders talking.
Forum chief Klaus Schwab promised “continued digital convening of leaders from business, government and civil society.”
“We look forward to bringing leaders together in person soon,” he added.
The Davos meeting in January 2021, held virtually because of the pandemic, came at the height of wrangles over vaccine distribution between wealthy and worse-off countries and the manufacturers.