G20 pushes private sector to help in debt relief efforts

24 Novembre, 2020, 13:42 | Auteur: Auguste Feret
  • World Bank cautions G20 against doing too little now to tackle debt problems

"These are important, positive steps for development, and I've been glad to see constructive responses from major creditors", Malpass said in remarks to the G20 summit hosted by Saudi Arabia via video conference on November 21-22.

The debt service payments due from May 1 to the end of the year owed by the most impoverished countries will be suspended, according to the G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors' Meeting in April.

G20 leaders are poised to formally endorse extension of a temporary freeze in official bilateral debt payments by the poorest countries, and adoption of a common framework for debt restructuring in the future.

With Zambia's recent default on debt repayment and global concern over pandemic-related economic impacts, the G20 meeting in Riyadh wrapped up Sunday with a commitment through June for the Debt Service Suspension Initiative (DSSI) to allow developing nations to defer debt payments.

"While the G20's reaction in April was rapid, it's now lacking urgency", Oxfam France spokesman Louis-Nicolas Jandeaux said.

China has extended debt relief to developing countries worth a combined $2.1bn under the G20 framework, the highest among the group's members in terms of the amount deferred, the country's finance minister Liu Kun said on Friday. The poorest nations' official bilateral debt to G-20 countries reached US$178 billion past year, with 63 per cent of the total owed to China, a World Bank study showed.

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"(But) it only considers debt forgiveness as a final option - and it isn't binding", warned Jandeaux.

However, time is running out. "The pandemic has set back global efforts to eradicate poverty and narrow inequality", said South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, current chairman of the African Union.

The same day, Bolivia said it expected to temporarily stop servicing its debts until its economic condition had improved.

In March, panicked investors pulled out US$82 billion of capital from developing nations in a matter of days.

Remittances by migrant workers have been particularly hard hit.

Middle-income countries like Lebanon are excluded, while others, such as Kenya, have declined to seek DSSI relief for fear of a credit rating downgrade that would see their borrowing costs increase, as happened in Cameroon.

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