IMF to provide debt relief to help 25 countries deal with coronavirus pandemic

IMF to provide debt relief to help 25 countries deal with coronavirus pandemic
About $215 million of IMF’s coronavirus fund would be used for grants to the first 25 countries over the next six months, with extensions possible up to two years. (China Daily via Reuters)
Short Url
Updated 14 April 2020

IMF to provide debt relief to help 25 countries deal with coronavirus pandemic

IMF to provide debt relief to help 25 countries deal with coronavirus pandemic
  • First batch of countries will receive grants to cover their debt service obligations
  • The fund is pushing to raise the amount available to $1.4 billion

WASHINGTON: The International Monetary Fund said on Monday it would provide immediate debt relief to 25 member countries under its Catastrophe Containment and Relief Trust (CCRT) to allow them to focus more financial resources on fighting the coronavirus pandemic.
IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva said the fund’s executive board approved on Monday the first batch of countries to receive grants to cover their debt service obligations to the fund for an initial six months.
She said the CCRT had about $500 million in resources on hand, including new pledges of $185 million from Britain, $100 million from Japan, and undisclosed amounts from China, the Netherlands and others. The fund is pushing to raise the amount available to $1.4 billion.
About $215 million of the total would be used for grants to the first 25 countries over the next six months, with extensions possible up to two years, an IMF spokeswoman said.
“This provides grants to our poorest and most vulnerable members to cover their IMF debt obligations for an initial phase over the next six months and will help them channel more of their scarce financial resources toward vital emergency medical and other relief efforts,” Georgieva said in a statement.
She urged other donor countries to help replenish the CCRT and boost the fund’s ability to provide additional debt service relief for a full two years to its poorest member countries.
Eric LeCompte, executive director of Jubilee USA Network, a non-profit group, said the grants would help the IMF’s poorest members, including the Central African Republic, which has only three critical-care unit beds for a population of 5 million.
“It’s a great start, but we need more donors to be able to offer this relief,” he said, adding that the IMF should also consider selling some of its gold reserves, now worth an estimated $140 billion, as was done in past crises.
An IMF spokesman said the fund was looking at actions that could be taken quickly, but “another sale of gold reserves is not currently on the table.”
The IMF in March approved changes that would allow the CCRT to provide up to two years of debt service relief to the fund’s poorest members as they responded to the outbreak of COVID-19, the respiratory illness caused by the novel coronavirus.
The changes enabled countries to request the aid even if the outbreak had not yet caused significant impact.
More than 1.8 million people have been reported to be infected by the coronavirus globally and 115,242 have died, according to a Reuters tally.
A precursor of the CCRT was used for Haiti after the devastating earthquake that struck the island nation in 2010.
Renamed CCRT, it was also used to provide relief to countries affected by the 2014 Ebola outbreak.
The first countries that will receive debt service relief from the CCRT are Afghanistan, Benin, Burkina Faso, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Gambia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Haiti, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mozambique, Nepal, Niger, Rwanda, São Tomé and Príncipe, Sierra Leone, Solomon Islands, Tajikistan, Togo and Yemen, the IMF said.


EgyptAir reduces its ticket prices by 50% to European countries

EgyptAir reduces its ticket prices by 50% to European countries
Updated 25 January 2021

EgyptAir reduces its ticket prices by 50% to European countries

EgyptAir reduces its ticket prices by 50% to European countries
  • Business class tickets discounted by 35%, and economy class tickets by 25%, with discounts applicable when purchasing tickets until Jan. 31
  • Tourism revenues in Egypt plummeted by more than 69% during the last year due largely to the coronavirus disease pandemic

CAIRO: EgyptAir has announced a 50 percent discount on economy and business class tickets between Cairo and a number of European destinations.

The company offered discounts on its flights between Cairo and Paris for travel from Jan. 24 to Jan. 29, between Cairo and Amsterdam for travel on Jan. 24, 27 and 29, Cairo and London from Jan. 27 to Jan. 29 and between Cairo and Frankfurt on Jan. 28.

The company announced the continuation of discounts on flights between Egypt and Saudi Arabia, Riyadh, Dammam, Jeddah, Madinah and Al-Qassim.

Business class tickets are 35 percent off, and economy class tickets are 25 percent off, with discounts applicable when purchasing tickets until Jan. 31 and traveling until March 15, returning before March 31.

Last Thursday, the state-owned company began applying additional discounts to the price of fuel for the aviation sector, to reach 15 cents per gallon, in support of the tourism sector and to stimulate aviation.

Tourism revenues in Egypt plummeted by more than 69 percent during the last year due largely to the coronavirus disease pandemic, dropping to about $4 billion compared to more than $13 billion in 2019 due to the suspension of air traffic and travel worldwide, and the closure of borders between countries for several months.

Egypt announced an initiative to stimulate domestic tourism under the title “Winter in Egypt,” which relies on reducing the prices of domestic flight tickets.