IMF completes debt relief for Ebola ravaged West African nations

IMF completes debt relief for Ebola ravaged West African nations

Thursday, March 26, 2015 6:43 pm

IMF Managing director, Christine Lagarde

IMF Managing director, Christine Lagarde

The International Monetary Fund said Thursday it had completed its pledged debt relief for the three West African countries worst-hit by the Ebola epidemic.

In early February, the IMF approved $100 million in debt relief for Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea.

On Thursday, the crisis lender said it had approved $29.8 million in debt relief to Guinea under the institution’s new Catastrophe Containment Relief Trust.

“The CCR grant will be applied to immediately repay outstanding debt and free up resources for use in relief, containment and recovery efforts in the fight against the Ebola epidemic,” the multilateral institution said.

That grant follows IMF debt relief of $29.1 million for Sierra Leone and $36.5 million for Liberia.

In addition, the IMF raised to $290 million the amount of zero-interest rate loans awarded the three countries, from $130 million set last September, as it had promised last month.

IMF spokesman William Murray said that the debt relief should help the governments “to fund increased public health spending and other outlays during the crisis.”

The Ebola outbreak, which began about a year ago, has killed more than 10,000 people, mostly in the three countries, and savaged their economies and government finances.

“The Ebola crisis is not over,” Murray said. “The Fund will continue to do all it can within its mandate to assist” the stricken countries.

The IMF recently has faced criticism from nonprofit organizations and others for its austerity-mandated loans to West African countries during the 1980s and ’90s, which weakened their public health systems.

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