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G20 okays debt suspension for poor countries amid virus

G20 sets action plan against coronavirus, pledging to navigate through crisis to inclusive global economic recovery.

Facing down the coronavirus pandemic, finance officials from the G20 economies agreed on Wednesday to support a time-bound suspension of debt service payments for the poorest countries that request forbearance.

“Our efforts must continue and be amplified. We commit to use all available policy tools to support the global economy, maintain financial stability and prevent deep economic effects,” G20 finance ministers and central bank governors said in a statement after meeting over the virus crisis.

Members endorsed an action plan in response to COVID-19, pledging to navigate through the crisis to a robust, sustained, and inclusive global economic recovery.

Debt freeze for world’s poorest countries

“We [G20 members] agreed on a coordinated approach with a common term sheet providing the key features for this debt service suspension initiative, which is also agreed by the Paris Club,” they said in a statement.

The G20 also called on private creditors to participate in the initiative on comparable terms.

“We ask multilateral development banks to further explore the options for the suspension of debt service payments over the suspension period, while maintaining their current rating and low cost of funding.”

G20 praises IMF, World Bank relief packages

The G20 members also welcomed rescue steps already taken by the IMF and the World Bank to help countries in need, saying the leading finance institutions are using all instruments to the fullest extent possible as part of a coordinated global response.

“We support the further adoption and swift implementation of a strong financial response to help countries in need and to uphold global financial stability and resilience,” it said.

According to the statement, the financial response includes delivering a comprehensive IMF support package, urgently implementing more than $200 billion in support proposed by the World Bank and multilateral development banks, and addressing debt vulnerabilities in low-income countries due to the pandemic.

The plan will be reviewed regularly as the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic unfolds, it pledged.

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