Loading...
Loading...
Click here if you don’t see subscription options
A Liberian woman prays for the end of Ebola outside Monrovia, Liberia, last October.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) is providing $330 million of financing to aid Ebola-impacted countries. The plan includes $170 million of debt relief and grant-like aid for Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea. The new plan also expands a debt relief facility previously used to cancel debt after Haiti's 2010 earthquake. The new expanded facility, the Catastrophe Containment Relief Trust (CCR), is now a permanent debt relief facility for the world's poorest countries when they experience shocks such as epidemics or natural disasters.

"This aid is so vital for the countries affected by Ebola," said Eric LeCompte, Executive Director of the religious anti-poverty organization Jubilee USA Network. "Now we have a permanent debt relief vehicle for when the poorest countries face certain crises. Essentially, a global social safety net is now in place to protect the least developed countries when they experience disasters."

$100 million of debt relief will come through the IMF's new Catastrophe Containment Relief Window Trust. Another $70 million in debt relief will come from other governments who hold debt in the three countries. Concessional loans of $160 million add up to a grand total of $330 million in new financing. The package also includes a new financing mechanism designed to deliver funds to disaster-impacted countries quickly without worsening debt burdens.

"This new fund is an important, permanent tool in the fight against poverty," noted LeCompte, who serves on United Nations expert groups on debt and global finance. "It means resources for countries that need them most at the time they need them most."

Jubilee USA moved the IMF to create the Post Catastrophe Debt Relief Trust (PCDR) after Haiti's 2010 earthquake and to finance the fund through windfall gold sales. Jubilee USA urged the US government to call on the IMF to use the fund for Ebola-impacted countries. In November, the White House asked the IMF to grant $100 million in debt relief through the fund and took its proposal to the G20. At the G20 summit, the IMF agreed to the $300 million package, which its board now approved.

The Fund's plan includes a new innovation: rapidly distributing loans to countries in need and then using debt relief to provide grant-like aid. The $100 million in debt relief - which represents roughly 20% of the countries' quotas at the Fund - is designed to offset any increased debt burden from emergency loans. Prior to the announcement, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea owed a combined $372 million to the IMF. The three countries have a combined total debt stock of over $3 billion; much of that debt comes from  dictatorships, civil wars and one-party rule. The three countries paid a total of $81 million in debt service in 2013. In 2012, Guinea, where the outbreak began, spent more money on debt than on public health.

"Tonight I'm toasting the IMF and the White House," said LeCompte. "Unfortunately the World Bank has remained silent in the face of this crisis. I pray they follow the IMF's lead."

Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more.

The latest from america

A man walks past a Marian mural in Belfast, Northern Ireland, Feb. 20, 2013. Data from the 2021 census showed 45.7% of respondents identified as Catholic or were brought up Catholic, compared with 43.5% identifying as Protestants, the first time in more than a century that Catholics outnumber Protestants. (CNS photo/Cathal McNaughton, Reuters)
Just below those top-line figures on religious affiliation, significant changes in national identity also become clear—29 percent of the Northern Irish population now see themselves exclusively as Irish. This is just three points behind the 32 percent who consider themselves British.
Kevin HargadenOctober 03, 2022
Cardinal Pedro Baretto Jimeno, S.J., explained that the now officially recognized body “involves bishops, priests, women and men religious and the lay faithful from the nine countries of the Amazon region.”
Gerard O’ConnellOctober 03, 2022
One of the lesser-known facts about the story of the seven days of creation is that it was written in response to a disaster, and its comforts can be applicable even today.
Jim McDermottOctober 03, 2022
bishop georg bätzing sits in front of a microphone at the conference of the german bishops, he wears his priest clothing and is gesturing with his hands
The president of the German bishops' conference demanded an apology from a cardinal who seemed to compare the German Synodal Path with a Nazi ideology.
Catholic News ServiceOctober 03, 2022