World Bank receives more than it delivers to world’s poorest countries amid COVID-19 emergency

Ahead of the G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors meeting (18 July), new analysis from the ONE Campaign reveals that, since the start of the pandemic, the World Bank has received $1.7 billion from the world’s poorest countries in debt repayments.

Despite committing a similar amount ($1.9 billion) in emergency funding to tackle COVID-19, the latest public data shows that only $250 million has been disbursed. This means that the world’s poorest countries are paying back six times more than they have received in emergency support.

ONE is calling on the G20 to urge multilateral institutions and private creditors support a debt repayment standstill, and for an extension of the G20’s debt standstill agreement to the end of 2021.

Gayle Smith, President and CEO of the ONE Campaign, said: “It’s shocking that the World Bank is receiving more than it delivers to the world’s poorest countries while they’re weathering this crisis.

“The World Bank’s failure to support a multilateral debt standstill, choosing instead to roll out new loans and grants has resulted in a slower, less flexible and less effective pandemic response.

The $1.7 billion in debt repayments could have bought 100,000 ventilators or 14 million COVID-19 testing kits. Yet as of the end of May, some of the poorest countries have paid back six times more than they have received in emergency support.

“By dragging its feet on debt suspension, the World Bank risks prolonging the life of the pandemic.”

Notes to editors

  • The last G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors meeting in April concluded with the agreement of bilateral debt repayment suspension for the world’s poorest countries for the remainder of 2020, known as the Debt Service Suspension Initiative (DSSI).
  • As of mid-July 2020, only $1.9 billion has been committed in emergency COVID-19 financing for DSSI-eligible countries, of which the latest data show only $250 million has actually been disbursed as of the end of May.
  • Bilateral debt service only represents about 47% of the total payments due this year. Multilateral institutions – such as the World Bank and the IMF – along with private creditors, make up the rest of the 53%.
  • Since the start of the pandemic, the World Bank has received an average of $290 million per month in debt repayment from the world’s poorest countries – money that could be used to save lives.

 

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