Finance chiefs urged to act as world’s most vulnerable countries face triple whammy of threats to economic growth
Washington, DC: As the World’s financial leaders gather in Marrakech for the World Bank and IMF Annual Meetings, anti-poverty campaigners are urging them to follow the advice given by the G20’s Independent Expert Group and urgently accelerate efforts to triple the amount of affordable finance available to vulnerable countries.
Recent analysis from The ONE Campaign shows that low-income countries are being hit by a triple-whammy of economic threats. Rising interest rates are further increasing pressure on countries already at severe risk of debt distress. If average interest rates on bonds go up by just 1%, the interest on those debts will cost African countries $2.5 billion more. Meanwhile, currency devaluation saw African countries lose 8% on the value of their currency from January 2022 to March 2023, making it harder for them to repay international debt or trade with wealthy nations. And the spiraling inflation that has caused a global cost of living crisis is driving up costs, including for food and other essential goods and services – which has led to millions more people at risk of being priced out of basic necessities.
These economic pressures make it harder for governments to invest in their people, reduce poverty or take urgent action to tackle the climate crisis. This could not come at a worse time, with many countries struggling to recover from the Covid 19 pandemic and fallout out from the war in Ukraine, and with the whole world seeing the consequences of climate change – from wildfires in Canada and the US, to the devastating floods in Libya and a deadly famine still gripping the Horn of Africa.
Gayle Smith, CEO of The ONE Campaign, said: “The annual meetings of the World Bank and IMF don’t often grab the world’s attention; but this one should. The decisions made in Marrakech will either stem or prolong the crises upending the world’s developing countries. It’s time for world leaders to take the bold steps needed to shape a global economy that gives everyone a fair shot.”
Ahead of the Annual Meetings, ONE has welcomed recent progress made by the World Bank’s new President, Ajay Banga – including proposals to mobilise $100bn of extra lending through hybrid capital and portfolio guarantees. However, the increased investment proposed still falls far short of the tripling of affordable finance that the G20 expert group recommended was necessary to tackle climate change and accelerate development. For these meetings to be successful, ministers in Marrakech, especially those representing the World Bank’s biggest shareholders, should commit to achieve that goal by 2030.
Romilly Greenhill, UK Director for The ONE Campaign, said: “We are starting to see a welcome increase in available finance for vulnerable countries from global institutions like the World Bank and other multilateral development banks. But this still isn’t happening at anything like the speed or scale needed to tackle the generational challenges staring us in the face. Nothing is more expensive than a missed opportunity. After a year of deadly wake up calls around the world, these meetings will result in another wasted moment if we don’t see real progress. If we don’t seize the mettle now, future generations will be picking up the bill for decades to come.”
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