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Saint-Louis churches buy back $ 12.9 million in medical debt, then give it away | Metro

Reverend James Ross, pastor of Pilgrim Congregational Church in St. Louis, said he sees the need when a nurse shows up to help those in the pantry queue.

“For some people, it’s the only access to medical care they have, and it’s a shame in the richest country in the world,” Ross said. “So at Pilgrim we were delighted to contribute to that. … We know that this matters to the 11,000 families involved, and yet we know that there is much more to be done because while it helps, it does not transform the system.

Rick Stevens, president of Christian Hospital, told the event that a family of three must earn less than $ 4,500 to be eligible for Medicaid in Missouri. He said he supports the expansion of Medicaid and calls on voters to do so in November.

“It can be done,” he said, mentioning similar efforts in Montana and Kansas.

U.S. Representative William Lacy Clay, D-University City, also at the announcement, later said that the policy entrenched since the passage in 2010 of the Affordable Care Act, President Barack Obama’s signature legislation, is the main obstacle.

He said medical debt was crushing families and limiting the future in Missouri. He said he was alarmed by the closure of hospitals in rural areas. More and more people are traveling hundreds of kilometers, often to Saint-Louis, to obtain adequate health care.


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Will the G20 step up debt relief for the poorest countries? | Business and Economy

The G20 is set to discuss going beyond the initial debt relief efforts agreed to in April as the pandemic continues to ravage poor economies.

The Group of 20 major economies this weekend may have to consider expanding aid to the world’s poorest countries, three months after agreeing to provide temporary debt relief amid the coronavirus pandemic continues to ravage the nations.

G-20 central bankers and finance ministers will hold a virtual meeting on Saturday to discuss and coordinate phased efforts to spur a global economic recovery. Looking beyond debt relief efforts would be part of it.

The Covid-19 pandemic is now spreading faster in the Americas and Africa compared to the previous meeting in April, when the bulk of infections were in Asia and Europe. The rate of infections is rising in many countries, with the cost of debt outweighing health and social spending.

Unprecedented stimulus measures from the world’s largest central banks have helped most emerging markets regain access to international capital markets, but some smaller economies that typically do not benefit from large-scale borrowing will still need help.

“The focus on debt is important, but we shouldn’t focus on it to the exclusion of everything else,” said Anna Gelpern, professor of law at Georgetown University, at a conference July 9. “The goal must be essential funding. needs in response to a public health shock. How to get there is a second-rate question.

Since the April G-20 agreement that aims to waive around $ 12 billion in bilateral debt payments from countries particularly vulnerable to the pandemic, 41 of 73 eligible countries have asked for help. The Paris Club waived $ 1.3 billion in repayments and the International Monetary Fund made $ 100 billion in emergency funding available for low-income and emerging countries.

Middle income countries

However, charities, including Oxfam, have said that the aid given to the world’s poorest countries so far is “woefully insufficient”. Saturday’s talks could focus on extending the debt break beyond 2020 and adding middle-income countries, said Eric LeCompte of Jubilee USA Network, a non-profit group that advocates for the debt relief for small economies.

France’s main priorities for the meeting will be to extend the moratorium on the debt service of the poorest countries until 2021 and to encourage international negotiations for digital and minimum taxation, the finance minister said. Bruno Le Maire. Discussion of a new allocation of special drawing rights to the IMF will likely remain on the table, according to a finance ministry official.

A proposal to increase these reserve assets, which would increase the IMF’s lending power, was blocked by the United States at the lender’s meeting in April. However, the governor of China’s central bank on Thursday called on the IMF to use a new issuance of SDRs to help developing countries.

In a letter to G-20 finance ministers released on Friday, a group of economists including former US Treasury Secretary Larry Summers and Vera Songwe, executive secretary of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, urged the meeting to extend the debt moratorium and consider new SDR allocations. Summers is a Bloomberg News contributor.

“It will take more than a six-month suspension of debt service on existing bilateral debts to help the poorest countries finance the necessary fiscal and health response,” said Brad Setser, senior researcher at the Council on Foreign Relations and former economist in the US Treasury Department. “We also need more financial flows. “

Private creditors have so far backed away from efforts to stop payments on Eurobonds as countries feared triggering default clauses.

Another sticking point is China, which has been slow to join the debt suspension initiative. The participation of the world’s second largest economy is essential for the debt cancellation campaign to work, World Bank President David Malpass said last week.

“The persistent lack of clarity on which Chinese creditors will participate, coupled with the resistance of private sector creditors to voluntary participation suggest that the actual relief will be far less than originally expected,” Alicia Garcia Herrero, Chief Economist for Asia-Pacific at Natixis SA, says in a note.


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Funding for adaptation at the confluence of the climate crisis, Covid-19 and over-indebtedness

Covid-19 has hit every country in the world, rich and poor alike, but low income countries (LICs) are the hardest hit, and half of them are at high risk or are already in debt. Although in April this year, G20 finance ministers approved a Debt Service Suspension Initiative (DSSI) to provide temporary relief to LICs to help manage the impact of the pandemic, the adoption to date seems limited. The DSSI covers only part of the total debt of LICs. Private sector lenders have largely refused to come forward, undermining government efforts.

On the other hand, climatic disasters are increasing both in frequency and severity. The first line victims are the LICs, with very little adaptability. So far, the mitigation ambition of the main emitters is very low compared to the temperature targets set in the Paris Agreement. The Climate Action Tracker’s “thermometer” predicts a temperature rise of up to 4.1 degrees Celsius by 2100, unless dramatic climate action is taken. Even if this happens, the IPCC 1.5 degree Celsius report made it clear that massive climate damage to lives and livelihoods in LICs is to be expected. This makes the need for adaptation investments immediate and urgent.

However, adaptation funding is extremely poor, despite the commitments made by donors. As the private sector is not very interested in adaptation in LICs due to the ineffectiveness of market instruments and adaptation actions being mostly public goods, international public finance is the best possible source. adaptation. These countries received preferential treatment for support in the Paris Agreement. It should be remembered that the provision of climate finance is a legal obligation for developed countries, under both the Convention and the Paris Agreement, and Article 7.4 has recognized that adaptation is a global responsibility. Faced with this, adaptation financing representing less than 10 billion dollars per year is below, by order of magnitude, the needs of 140 to 300 billion dollars per year by 2030. Despite the promises of a balanced allocation, adaptation finance is less than 20 percent of total climate finance. LIC citizens receive an average of US $ 3 per person per year, or less than a cent per day, according to Oxfam.

The Global Commission on Adaptation (GCA) advocated for investments in adaptation and resilience, finding that benefit-cost ratios of interventions ranged from 2: 1 to 10: 1. However, the private sector’s contribution to adaptation still represents only a meager 3% of their total climate finance, and goes mainly to mitigation. Clearly, there are barriers to investing in climate resilience, including a lack of awareness of its benefits and capacity constraints. The GCA underscored the need to rapidly scale up adaptation finance through international and national sources.

According to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, repaying the external public debt of developing countries will cost between $ 2.6 billion and $ 3.4 trillion in 2020 and 2021 alone. ‘amounts to over six billion dollars a year. However, Bangladesh only receives support in the hundreds of millions, compared to domestic investments of more than $ 3 billion per year in adaptation. Clearly, without adequate liquidity support and major debt relief, the global economy, especially LICs, cannot return to pre-pandemic growth levels without risking severe climatic distress and social unrest. In light of these concerns, the G20 called on the IMF “to explore additional tools that could meet the needs of its members as the crisis unfolds, drawing on relevant experiences from previous crises.”

Faced with the persistent poverty of adaptation finance, it is necessary to seek alternative sources. One of those instruments worth considering is a “climate debt swap” option. The global community has had experience with “debt-for-nature swaps” (DNS) since the late 1980s and 1990s in developing countries, where debt relief was linked to investments in reforestation, biodiversity and the protection of indigenous peoples. In Bangladesh, we have the experience of the Arannyak Foundation, established in 2003 under the US Tropical Forest Conservation Act, where part of the debt owed to the United States was converted into local currency for investments in nature conservation. Overall, this instrument could not have much impact on debt reduction due to its very small scale. For example, the share of DNS-derived debt relief by some creditors is tiny, barely 0.3% of total climate finance in 2012. Since then, it has not increased much.

While there is global agreement that adaptation finance is new and additional and largely based on grants for LICs, the question of whether debt for adaptation trade (DAS) can be considered as such is controversial. These debates aside, in this time of global financial crisis, DAS may be an option for the global climate community to explore.

It is argued that, when properly designed and implemented, DAS can be a win-win option for both creditors and debtors. However, it depends on many conditions on both sides. Making DAS a viable and sustainable option requires relatively large amounts of public debt to have an impact on debt reduction. In view of its acceptance, the management modalities, including budget support or via the creation of a dedicated fund, could be decided later.

The International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) in London, in a recent study, argues that climate and nature debt swaps offer a way to restructure debt while promoting pro-poor growth and debt sustainability. IIED proposes to establish a global expert group to better understand these exchanges.

Another potential source is also being explored to boost adaptation finance. In 2019, the Climate Bonds Initiative (CBI) launched the Climate Resilience Principles, which inspired the issuance of the first bond dedicated to climate resilience by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development in September 2019, highlighting an opportunity for the creation of a new market for such instruments. But given the experience of the private Green Climate Fund facility and the World Bank’s International Development Association, successful blended finance models are still rare. Debt instruments such as green bonds, including climate resilience bonds, may not be universally applicable or viable in all markets. However, faced with a very limited budgetary space, they can in certain cases offer an essential lever for private financing in the short and medium term for the objectives of resilience.

These questions will likely be raised at the next annual meetings of the World Bank and the IMF on October 12-18. Obviously, the Bangladesh delegation to these meetings should be aware of these issues to share their thoughtful interventions, in alliance with like-minded nations.

Mizan R Khan is Deputy Director of the International Center for Climate Change and Development (ICCCAD) at the Independent University of Bangladesh and Program Director at LDC Universities Consortium on Climate Change (LUCCC).


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The G20 should call on private lenders to suspend debt repayments during a pandemic; China provides $ 2.1 billion in debt relief to poor countries; Religious leaders provide recommendations to the G20

Devex: Religious leaders present recommendations to G-20
“An international group of religious leaders and advocates this week presented a series of recommendations to Saudi Arabia, which chairs the G-20, ahead of the group’s high-level summit with world leaders which begins on November 20. The G20 Interfaith Forum brings together religious leaders and religious institutions from around the world to provide recommendations to heads of state on a multitude of development topics. Initially formed to tackle global economic problems, the G-20 has been pressed to address broader international challenges such as climate change and gender equality… ”(Welsh, 19/11).

The Guardian: “People are suffering”: G20 calls on private lenders to suspend debt repayment
“… Governments in the developing world are struggling to adjust to widespread financial losses from Covid-19, made worse by debt repayment to private creditors. The grouping of the biggest economies, the G20, is meeting in Saudi Arabia this weekend, and will urge private lending institutions to halt debt repayment, ideally to allow more spending to fight the pandemic … ”(Michaelson , 20/11).

Reuters: China says it has given $ 2.1 billion in debt relief to poor countries
China has provided debt relief to developing countries of a combined value of $ 2.1 billion under the G20, the highest among the group in terms of the amount deferred, the G20 said on Friday. Minister of Finance of the country, Liu Kun… ”(20/11).

The KFF Daily Global Health Policy Report summarized news and information on global health policy from hundreds of sources, from May 2009 to December 2020. All summaries are archived and available through search.


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World Bank chief calls for greater private sector buy-in for G-20 debt relief

The Group of 20 major economies’ debt relief initiative for the world’s poorest countries has progressed well, but further debt relief and greater involvement of private sector creditors is needed, the chairman of the government said on Monday. the World Bank, David Malpass.

Malpass told Reuters in an interview that 35 of the 73 eligible countries are participating in the G-20 debt relief initiative, which will freeze official bilateral debt service payments until the end of the year. , and others have expressed interest.

The G-20 Debt Service Suspension Initiative (DSSI) will free up $ 12 billion in funds that countries can use to deal with health and economic strains caused by the coronavirus, according to a new database from the World Bank.

Malpass said the pandemic had clearly caused a “very serious and lasting setback” to the global economy that was particularly hitting the poorest countries.

Debt relief agreed by G-20 members and the Paris Club of official creditors in April was helping poorer countries, but more measures would be needed to prevent the economic crisis from worsening poverty rates, did he declare.

He did not endorse calls by African countries and others for an extension of debt relief until 2022 and cancellation of some debts, but said more measures would be needed.

“We need to look for ways to further reduce the debt of the poorest countries, and then look at the larger situation facing developing countries,” he said.

He also urged the private sector to increase its participation.

“It doesn’t really make sense that commercial creditors continue to collect, demand and legally enforce payments from (…) the poorest countries that have been hit by both the pandemic and the recessions. deepest economic growth since World War II, “he said. .

Some countries have been reluctant to seek such relief for fear that it could harm their credit rating and access to international capital markets.

Greater transparency about debt levels and creditors could pave the way for increased investments to promote future growth, he said.


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Emerging economies call for more ambitious debt relief programs

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Government ministers from poor and indebted countries will this week appeal to their creditors for a much more ambitious debt relief effort as they grapple with the health and economic consequences of the coronavirus pandemic.

They will advocate for greater support from foreign governments and multilateral lenders as delegates gather for the annual IMF and World Bank meetings.

Financial assistance to cash-strapped governments has so far fallen far short of what is needed – and what advanced economies have been willing to do for themselves – critics say.

As Covid spread across the world this spring, the group of major G20 countries struck a deal allowing 73 of the world’s poorest countries to postpone this year’s official bilateral debt repayments for three years. But the broader options have failed as China and the United States have been reluctant to engage in broader collective action.

So far, 43 countries have requested debt suspensions under the initiative, delaying about $ 5.3 billion in payments this year, less than half of the $ 11.5 billion available, according to the Bank. global.

Critics say the debt service suspension has been hampered by confusion and disagreement over who should participate and on what terms. Private sector creditors, including commercial banks and bondholders, are not involved and have continued to receive repayments. China, which has become an important source of loans to poor countries in recent years, has only partially contributed.

Only three of the 43 countries concerned have asked private creditors for comparable debt relief and no agreement has yet been reached according to the IMF.

The G20 is expected to announce an extension of the moratorium on repayments as early as this week. But finance ministers in countries in need of debt relief told the Financial Times much more needs to be done.

“The ability of Western central banks to react [to the pandemic] to an unimaginable extent and the limits of our response capacity are quite shocking, ”said Ken Ofori-Atta, Minister of Finance of Ghana.

Ghana has criticized Western countries for allegedly overlooking the growing crisis in Africa while finding billions of dollars to boost their own economies.

Adama Coulibaly, Minister of Economy and Finance of Côte d’Ivoire, said: “We hope that the [debt service suspension] will be extended for one year so that the initiative can have a real impact.

But Ukur Yatani, Kenya’s finance minister, told the FT that his country would stay away from the initiative. “Delaying our repayments for three years without giving us a break would place a heavy burden on us. We have heavy repayments at this time, ”he said.

Instead, Yatani said his hopes were based on an IMF program Kenya has started negotiating.

Richard Kozul-Wright, director of development strategies at the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, said that “anything that provides resources that can be used to fight the pandemic in the most vulnerable countries must be fine. welcomed ”. But, he warned, “overall, given the financial constraints these countries face, [the debt service suspension] just looks like a drop in the ocean ”.

Vera Songwe, head of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, is coordinating an appeal from African finance ministers for $ 100 billion a year for the next three years to support the stricken economies on the continent.

This is a fraction of the fiscal and monetary stimulus already provided to the United States and Europe compared to Africa’s combined annual economic output of around $ 2.6 billion, he said. she declared.

Although Ms. Songwe would like the initiative to be expanded to benefit more countries, she said a loan guarantee mechanism to reduce borrowing costs for poor countries – which are already prohibitive for many low-income countries. credit rating – would be more powerful.

The “ideal private sector contribution to this crisis” would be for investors to agree “to make less income so that countries can access the resources they need at a lower cost,” she said.

The question is how to finance such an installation. The IMF could launch more of its so-called Special Drawing Rights (SDRs) – a form of proxy reserve asset – but that possibility has been vetoed by the United States.

Ms. Songwe called on G20 central banks to support the idea.

Ghana supports the idea of ​​using the SDRs to help amortize the finances of emerging economies and has been frustrated by what it sees as US opposition to the proposal.

“Not only should we create new SDRs to help us, but a lot of western countries do not use them, which means they could be transferred to us to prevent our liquidity problems from turning into insolvency problems. “said Mr. Ofori-Atta.

Unless this week’s lobbying generates new momentum, however, finance ministers in many developing economies will have to think about how to cope in the coming months as the costs of Covid rise.

“It is unthinkable that in a global pandemic, the world’s poorest countries will have to choose between paying down debt service and keeping their savings afloat,” said Gayle Smith, president of One Campaign against Poverty.


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The IMF Executive Board approves a disbursement of $ 43.4 million to Djibouti under the rapid credit facility and debt relief under the Containment and Development Trust Fund. disaster relief to cope with the COVID-19 pandemic

IMF Executive Board approves US $ 43.4 million disbursement to Djibouti under the Rapid Credit Facility and Debt Relief under the Containment Trust Fund and disaster relief to cope with the COVID-19 pandemic

May 8, 2020

  • The IMF Executive Board approved a $ 43.4 million loan to Djibouti to support the authorities’ response to the COVID-19 crisis, as well as debt relief under the CCRT, which will generate additional resources of $ 2.3 million over the next five months. , and potentially up to US $ 8.2 million over the next 23 months.
  • IMF support will provide additional resources for essential health and other emergency spending, including social safety nets. It will also help catalyze additional donor support.
  • The authorities are committed to using the additional IMF resources in a transparent manner and to ensuring that spending is well targeted and cost effective.

The Executive Board of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) today approved a rapid credit facility (RCF) disbursement equivalent to SDR 31.8 million (approximately $ 43.4 million, 100% of Djibouti’s quota) to help Djibouti cope with the urgent balance of payments. needs related to the COVID-19 pandemic. It also approved grants under the IMF Containment and Disaster Relief Trust Fund (CCRT) to cover Djibouti’s debt service due to the IMF today as of October 13, 2020, i.e. ‘equivalent of SDR 1.692 million or $ 2.3 million. Additional relief covering the period from October 14, 2020 to April 13, 2022 will be granted subject to the availability of CCRT resources, potentially bringing the total debt service relief to the equivalent of SDR 6.03 million; approximately $ 8.2 million.

The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly weakened Djibouti’s short-term macroeconomic outlook. The country is facing a significant negative external demand shock due to the global recession. Nationally, virus prevention and containment measures further affect demand and supply. Production is expected to contract by 1% in 2020 and the decline in services exports and foreign direct investment has created an urgent need for balance of payments financing in the order of 164 million dollars. The pandemic has also created urgent spending needs, including in the health sector, and is expected to negatively affect government revenues.

Following the discussion by the Board of Directors. Mr. Mitsuhiro Furusawa, Deputy Director General and Acting President, made the following statement:

“The COVID-19 pandemic is having a severe impact on Djibouti, creating an urgent balance of payments and budgetary financing needs. Authorities acted quickly to contain and mitigate the spread and impact of the virus. Their prevention and containment measures and their decisions to increase health and other emergency spending to protect households and businesses affected by the crisis will help limit the economic and social consequences.

“The crisis and the political response will lead to a widening of the budget deficit this year. IMF emergency financing under the Rapid Credit Facility and debt service relief under the Containment and Disaster Relief Trust Fund will provide much-needed liquidity to support the authorities’ response to the crisis. crisis and could catalyze further assistance from the international community, preferably in the form of grants. The authorities are committed to using the additional resources in a transparent manner and to ensuring that spending is well targeted and cost effective.

“Once the crisis subsides, temporary measures should be lifted, with policies refocusing on promoting a strong and inclusive recovery and maintaining medium-term debt sustainability. Addressing and preventing the recurrence of external arrears, speeding up key project operations and reducing public sector borrowing will be essential. Reducing tax expenditures will also be important in creating space for poverty reduction spending. Efforts to strengthen bank balance sheets, improve the business environment, and improve governance and the efficiency of state-owned enterprises will be key to fostering strong and inclusive growth.

More information:

IMF Lending Tracker (request for emergency financing approved by the IMF Executive Board)

https://www.imf.org/en/Topics/imf-and-covid19/COVID-Lending-Tracker

IMF Executive Board Calendar

https://www.imf.org/external/NP/SEC/bc/eng/index.aspx

IMF Communications Department
MEDIA RELATIONS

PRESS OFFICER: Wafa Amr

Telephone: +1 202 623-7100E-mail: [email protected]

@ IMFSpeaker



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A good start to debt relief but incomplete by Paola Subacchi

After initially responding to the pandemic-induced economic crisis with an initiative to postpone paying developing country debt, the G20 has now returned to the table to come up with a more plausible solution. But the new common framework for sovereign debt restructuring should only be the first step in a longer process.

LONDON – A global collapse in economic activity during the COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically increased the risk of debt distress in many countries, pushing the poorest to the brink. In response, various international organizations have unveiled a number of initiatives to prevent circumstances requiring between an adequate response to the public health crisis and the servicing of existing debts.

More specifically, the G20 has established a Debt Service Suspension Initiative (DSSI), which allows the world’s poorest countries to suspend official bilateral debt service payments until next year. And this month, the leaders of the G20 adopted a new common framework to meet the needs of sovereign debt restructuring on a case-by-case basis.

For poorer countries struggling with the pandemic, debt not only limits their fiscal space to respond to the crisis, but also hinders future development. Faced with the sudden costs of the COVID-19 crisis, many countries that are already struggling to service existing debt have needed new financing, only to find it too difficult or too expensive to borrow more . And even if they do, the additional debt burden will weigh on them for years, limiting their prospects for growth and development.

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Montgomery Churches and Synagogue Participate in National Debt Relief Charity

MONTGOMERY, Alabama (WSFA) – That’s a mind-boggling number. About 45 percent of all bankruptcies in Montgomery County alone are related to massive medical debts.

But two Montgomery churches and a synagogue are doing their part to help ease the burden on those struggling with debt.

Kreg Sherbine is a member of the First Christian Church Disciples of Christ in East Montgomery, a church related to RIP Medical Debt Charity based in New York State.

“We are called to take care of those in need,” Sherbine said.

And those in need in Montgomery County include about 1,200 people whose medical debts have been significantly reduced or written off entirely. They represented a combined total of $ 1.2 million in medical debt.

“In a lot of cases, people hit their deductible but couldn’t pay the rest,” Sherbine said. “You also have those who are uninsured.”

It all started 10 years ago with RIP Medical Debt Charity. Two men linked to the debt collection industry apparently changed their minds and took a different path.

“Their goal is to buy as much medical debt as possible and forgive those least likely to pay it,” Sherbine said.

A decade later, RIP Medical paid off $ 1 billion in medical debt in the country; $ 3 million statewide, every part of which comes from donations.

“They buy the debt from collection agencies and forgive it,” Sherbine said, adding that he knows the stories of relief followed by joy.

Sherbine remembered a story told to her by someone who had their debts canceled. The person was upset and said they had to read it twice to believe it.

A reduced or forgiven hospital bill is good medicine for heart and soul.

If you would like to donate or learn more about how RIP Medical Debt Charity works, log on to ripmedicaldebt.org

Sherbine says the other Montgomery church involved is the Community Congregational United Church of Christ on South Court Street. And there is also the Agudath Israel Etz Ahayem Synagogue on Cloverdale Road.

Copyright 2020 WSFA 12 News. All rights reserved.


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Somalia Debt Relief, Government Efforts to Combat COVID-19, and Further Boko Haram Attacks

Debt relief in Somalia and other African countries

On Wednesday, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) jointly announced that Somalia is now eligible for debt relief as part of the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) initiative. The success of the HIPC program reduce Somalia’s external debt from the current $ 5.2 billion to $ 557 million in about three years. Somalia will also be eligible to receive new international financing for the first time in 30 years, including access to IMF emergency aid grants to respond to the coronavirus pandemic. Thursday the European Union announced $ 47 million grant to help Somalia clear its debt arrears. A number of Somalia’s bilateral creditors will also meet on March 31 to discuss debt relief, Somali Finance Minister Abdirahman Duale Beileh hoping 75 to 80% debt relief and a multi-year repayment program. Find out more about debt relief and economic adjustments in conflict-affected states, see the October 2019 event where the Brookings Africa Growth Initiative hosted Minister Beileh to discuss his country’s efforts for debt relief.

In related news, the IMF and World Bank jointly called on bilateral creditors to suspend debt payments of 76 poorest countries in the world to enable them to channel additional resources to fight the coronavirus pandemic. At the same time, Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, in coordination with other African leaders, called on the G-20 to provide $ 150 billion for the continent’s response to the coronavirus. Abiy’s proposal calls for additional funding for African health systems, partial debt relief and support for struggling businesses, among others.

African governments respond to the spread of COVID-19

Like the rest of the world, Africa continues to face the devastating effects of the spread of COVID-19. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), at the time of this writing, the disease is confirmed in 39 countries in the WHO Africa region with over 2,500 cases.

In response, governments have adopted a wide variety of strategies to contain the disease and mitigate its impact on their economies. South Africa, where the the highest number of cases have been confirmed (over 1,100 to date), implemented a 21 days of national confinement from midnight on March 26. In particular, the WHO has adopted a WhatsApp platform by the South African nonprofit Praekelt.org to provide free automated responses with symptom information, travel tips and number updates to its users. The platform had already in use by the country’s health department.

Sunday March 22, Maurice forbids all entry—Including that of foreigners and Mauritian nationals and citizens — in the country for 14 days. That same day, Tunisia announced a 14-day lockdown period, with the exception of persons carrying out certain essential activities. The next day, Uganda has banned all inbound flights. Later in the week it prohibits all public transport. Monday also, Ethiopia closes land borders. Nigeria banned all interstate travel.

From Friday March 27, Kenya implemented a curfew between 7 p.m. and 5 a.m. Senegal, Ivory Coast and Sudan announced similar curfews. Also in Kenya, President Uhuru Kenyatta and Vice President William Ruto announced a 80 percent voluntary pay cut. Kenyatta’s ministers also take cuts between 20 and 30 percent; Kenya’s parliament will also take 30 percent over the next three months. The The Kenyan government has also offered tax relief for the general population: 100% for those earning less than $ 240 per month, and an income tax cut of 5% for everyone else. Interestingly, an aversion to fish imports from China caused the The booming Kenyan fishing sub-sector.

In the positive news, Senegal announced that researchers at its Institut Pasteur have started validation trials on a $ 1, home COVID-19 diagnostic test which can produce results in as little as 10 minutes. In Cameroon, one of the rebel groups, the Southern Cameroons Defense Forces (Socadef), has temporarily called for a ceasefire in its efforts to break away from largely French-speaking Cameroon and create an English-speaking state, although others groups continue to fight.

On Thursday, the African Development Bank also sold $ 3 billion in three years “Fighting COVID-19 Social Obligations”. In the meantime, the African Import-Export Bank announced the creation of a $ 3 billion credit facility to help African countries fight the effects of the pandemic.

You can find more Brookings comments on the COVID-19 pandemic here.

Nigeria and Chad affected by terrorist attacks by Boko Haram

Two attacks from jihadist groups Boko Haram and the Islamic State in the province of West Africa (ISWAP) – a Boko Haram splinter group – killed more than 140 soldiers this week in Chad and Nigeria. In Chad, 92 soldiers were killed by Boko Haram on Sunday March 22 in the Boma peninsula near Lake Chad. The attack was the Boko Haram’s deadliest attack on the Chadian military forces. In Nigeria, 50 soldiers were killed by ISWAP in an ambush in eastern Borno state on March 23. The attack occurred after an attempted offensive against ISWAP by the Nigerian military which started this weekend.

Boko Haram was active in northeast Nigeria since 2009, and over the past decade, with ISWAP, has also spread to neighboring Cameroon, Chad and Niger. According to the United Nations, approximately 36,000 people were killed and nearly 2 million displaced in northeastern Nigeria since the start of the Boko Haram insurgency. Despite regional efforts to defeat jihadist groups, the attacks have multiplied in recent months.


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