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African ministers meet UN and IMF chiefs over Covid-19

BUSINESS
By Xinhua | February 11th 2021

African ministers in charge of finance met with the UN Economic Commission for Africa Executive Secretary Vera Songwe, and International Monetary Fund (IMF) Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva to discuss an immediate economic response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

“During the virtual meeting, which was convened by the UNECA and IMF, the ministers were unanimous in their call for additional liquidity, Sh5.5 trillion ($500 billion) in Special Drawing Rights, better market access, more concessional resources and an extension in the Debt Service Suspension Initiative (DSSI), given the prolonged nature of the pandemic,” noted UNECA statement.

“We all know that the Covid-19 pandemic will persist for the next three years. Why are we extending the DSSI for six months and not 24 months?” Ken Ofori-Atta, Ghana’s Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, as saying during the recent meeting.

Covid effects

Ofori-Atta said the cascading effects of Covid-19 were “a frightening thing for a finance minister to witness when they don’t have the means to respond.”

On access to the markets, Egypt’s Minister of Finance Mohamed Maait rooted for access to markets at affordable rates to ease access to essentials such as protective gears and food.

Georgieva noted that the world stands to lose Sh100 trillion ($9 trillion) if only the rich get Covid-19 vaccines. He stressed that 40 per cent of this loss will be in advanced economies. Songwe said countries needed additional fiscal space and less austerity.

The IMF chief called for bold and immediate action for response and recovery to reseZt African economies, adding that “liquidity and financing is the bridge to vaccines and recovery.”

The meeting sought IMF support in forging a way out of the crisis by transforming existing liquidity instruments and easing market access to alleviate the debt burden and provide liquidity for the continent.

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