African ministers meet with IMF, ECA on immediate economic response to COVID-19 – World
Addis Ababa, February 5, 2021 (ECA) – The Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), Vera Songwe, met on Friday February 5, 2021 with African ministers in charge of finance and the Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Kristalina Georgieva, to discuss the immediate economic response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
At the virtual meeting, which was convened by the ECA and the IMF, ministers were unanimous in their call for additional liquidity, $ 500 billion in Special Drawing Rights (SDRs), better market access, more concessional resources and an extension of the debt service suspension. Initiative (DSSI), given the protracted nature of the pandemic.
“We all know that the COVID-19 pandemic will persist for the next 2-3 years. Why are we extending the DSSI by 6 months and not by 24 months? said Ken Ofori-Atta, Ghanaian Minister of Finance and Economic Planning.
Mr Ofori-Atta said the cascading effects of COVID-19 were “a frightening thing for a finance minister to see when he cannot afford to respond.”
Regarding market access, Egyptian Finance Minister Mohamed Maait said that “there is a strong case for vulnerable countries to access affordable markets to afford basic necessities such as PPE and food for their populations ”.
Equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines was highlighted as an imperative for better progress.
“The world stands to lose an estimated $ 9 trillion if only the rich get vaccinated against COVID-19. 40% of this loss will occur in advanced economies, ”said Georgieva.
In addition to the availability of vaccines, ECA Executive Secretary Vera Songwe said the issue of distribution and deployment also deserved special attention. And for this reason, countries needed additional fiscal space and less austerity.
Ms. Georgieva noted that to move forward better, there is a need to “act boldly and immediately for the response, recovery and reset of African economies,” adding that “liquidity and financial response are the gateway to vaccines and recovery ”.
The objective of the meeting was to “seek the support of the IMF to emerge from the crisis by transforming existing liquidity instruments and facilitating market access to ease the debt burden and provide the liquidity that the continent has so badly needed. need, ”Ms. Songwe said.
Noting that Ms Songwe’s call with finance ministers to triple concessional financing was “critical in conversations at last year’s spring meetings,” Ms Georgieva urged ministers to prepare for a focused and practical discussion. during the 2021 spring meetings.
“The time has come to demonstrate that the allocation of SDRs can be part of a comprehensive support framework, along with debt reduction, debt relief and policy support actions in countries,” said Ms Georgieva.
Minister Vera of Angola underlined the importance of national reforms and in particular good governance reforms as an important component of the response and recovery plan. Angola has said it is committed to continuing on the path of reform.
The meeting agreed on the need for a concerted effort to accelerate reforms to increase revenues, improve spending and manage debt in order to attract more private sector investment to Africa.
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