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Ruchir Agarwal and Ms. Gita Gopinath
Urgent steps are needed to arrest the rising human toll and economic strain from the COVID-19 pandemic that are exacerbating already-diverging recoveries. Pandemic policy is also economic policy as there is no durable end to the economic crisis without an end to the health crisis. Building on existing initiatives, this paper proposes pragmatic actions at the national and multilateral level to expeditiously defeat the pandemic. The proposal targets: (1) vaccinating at least 40 percent of the population in all countries by the end of 2021 and at least 60 percent by the first half of 2022, (2) tracking and insuring against downside risks, and (3) ensuring widespread testing and tracing, maintaining adequate stocks of therapeutics, and enforcing public health measures in places where vaccine coverage is low. The benefits of such measures at about $9 trillion far outweigh the costs which are estimated to be around $50 billion—of which $35 billion should be paid by grants from donors and the residual by national governments potentially with the support of concessional financing from bilateral and multilateral agencies. The grant funding gap identified by the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator amounts to about $22 billion, which the G20 recognizes as important to address. This leaves an estimated $13 billion in additional grant contributions needed to finance our proposal. Importantly, the strategy requires global cooperation to secure upfront financing, upfront vaccine donations, and at-risk investment to insure against downside risks for the world.
International Monetary Fund. Middle East and Central Asia Dept.
The COVID-19 pandemic is having a severe human, economic, and social impact on Mauritania. The economy is estimated to have contracted by about 2 percent in 2020 and the crisis generated large financing needs. The authorities responded swiftly to mitigate the impact of the pandemic while international partners provided grants, loans, and debt service suspension. This, compounded by higher commodity exports (iron ore and gold) and some delays in emergency spending, resulted in unexpected fiscal surpluses and an accumulation of international reserves, which may now be used to support the recovery in 2021–22. The outlook remains highly uncertain and dependent on volatile commodity markets, with sizable downside risks in case new waves of the pandemic spill over into Mauritania.
International Monetary Fund. African Dept.
After almost a decade of strong growth, the WAEMU region is facing severe challenges from a triple crisis impacting the health, economic and security situations. Both fiscal and monetary policies were relaxed significantly in 2020 to contain the pandemic and support the economy. A gradual fiscal consolidation is expected to start in 2021 and bring back the aggregate fiscal deficit towards the 3 percent of GDP regional ceiling within three years. Growth is expected to recover swiftly in 2021–22 to pre-crisis levels, but the economic outlook is still uncertain.
International Monetary Fund. African Dept.
The Covid-19 pandemic had a substantial impact on C.A.R.’s economy but appears now somewhat contained. The number of positive cases and related deaths has been very limited over the last few months, even though most containment measures have been progressively loosened. Despite some progress since the February 2019 peace agreement, the security situation remains precarious. Despite some delays in voter registration, the first round of the presidential and general elections is still scheduled on December 27.
International Monetary Fund. African Dept.
Since the approval of the first Rapid Credit Facility (RCF-1) request on May 4, 2020 (IMF Country Report No 20/185), weaker external demand in major trading partners (China and Europe) and a more pronounced impact of containment measures to slow the rising number of COVID-19 cases, have further deteriorated growth prospects and worsened Cameroon’s external and fiscal positions. Given limited fiscal buffers and urgent balance of payments needs due to the pandemic, the authorities allowed the current ECF arrangement expire at end-September, reiterated their interest on a successor arrangement, and in the meantime requested financial assistance under the “exogenous shocks window” of the RCF equivalent to 40 percent of quota (SDR 110.4 million). This additional request will bring the total disbursement under the RCF to 100 percent of quota in 2020.
International Monetary Fund. African Dept.
This paper focuses on Cameroon’s Requests for Disbursement Under the Rapid Credit Facility (RCF), Extension of the Extended Credit Facility (ECF) Arrangement, and Rephasing of Access. The outbreak of the coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic and the terms of trade shocks from the sharp fall in oil prices are having a significant impact on Cameroon’s economy, leading to a historic fall of real gross domestic product growth. The authorities are taking decisive actions to limit the spread of the virus and its economic and social impact. They have implemented strong crisis containment and mitigation measures and are scaling up spending to bolster their health response. Additional measures currently under consideration will provide support to vulnerable households and firms. IMF emergency financing under the RCF will support the government’s efforts to mitigate the impact of the twin shocks. Additional assistance from development partners will be critical to fill the remaining financing need. Strict budgetary controls and transparency will be needed to ensure that the assistance under the RCF meets its intended objectives.
International Monetary Fund. Middle East and Central Asia Dept.
As in many other countries in the world, the pandemic has exerted a heavy toll on Morocco’s population. Its economy has also been hit by a severe drought that affected agriculture output. The authorities’ prompt response has helped contain the social and economic damage from the shocks but could not avoid a severe contraction of GDP. The loss of tax revenues deteriorated the fiscal position, while the fall in tourism receipts widened the current account deficit. However, greater access to external borrowing, including the full drawing of the IMF Precautionary and Liquidity Line (PLL) arrangement, has helped maintain international reserves at adequate levels so far in 2020. A gradual economic recovery is expected to begin in 2021, assuming the impact of the drought and the health crisis wane next year. The recent rise in COVID-19 cases, both in Morocco and its main trading partners, suggests that this outlook remains subject to significant downside risks.
International Monetary Fund. African Dept.
The economic shock associated with the COVID-19 pandemic is set to have long-lasting effects on the economic outlook for CEMAC. The pandemic itself seems to be now broadly under control in the region, and the policy response from national and regional authorities, supported by significant emergency financing by the Fund, helped mitigate the initial economic fallout. With lower medium-term oil prices, the outlook projects that CEMAC’s fiscal and external adjustments will be slower than previously envisaged, entailing large external financing needs (around €6.6 billion for 2021–23). Gross international reserves will now reach the equivalent of 5 months of imports by 2025 vs. 2022 pre-pandemic, while net foreign assets (NFA) will be below previous expectations. Public debt would remain at elevated levels, albeit on a declining trend after the increase in 2020. This outlook is highly uncertain and contingent on the evolution of the pandemic and its impact on oil prices. Other significant risks include: delayed implementation of the ongoing or a second phase of new Fund-supported programs, difficulties in filling large external financing needs, and a deterioration in the security situation.