G20 agrees to debt relief for poorest countries amid pandemic
Riyadh: With the global economy plunged into the worst recession in a century, the Group of 20 nations on Wednesday announced a one-year debt standstill for the world's poorest nations as they struggle to deal with the coronavirus pandemic.
The G20, which brings together the world's largest economies, also reiterated the pledge to deploy "all available policy tools" to deal with the health and economic crisis caused by COVID-19.
With over two million cases and fatalities approaching 130,000 worldwide, many of the less developed countries are facing the heaviest burden since they do not have the spending power to deal with treatment and the economic fallout caused by widespread lockdowns of their economies imposed to contain the virus.
The G20 finance ministers and central bankers endorsed "a time-bound suspension of debt service payments for the poorest countries," and in the communique following their virtual meeting, said "All bilateral official creditors will participate in this initiative."
Saudi Finance Minister Mohammed Al-Jadaan, who currently chairs the group, said this means "poor countries don't need to worry about repaying over the course of the next 12 months."
The initiative will "provide north of $20 billion of immediate liquidity" for poor countries to use "for their health system and support their people facing COVID-19," he said in a press briefing.
The G20 officials "put our money where our mouth is, and commit to further support the world as it faces this pandemic," he said. - AFP