The coronavirus pandemic is a global crisis like no other in modern times, and there is a growing apprehension about handling potentially contaminated cash. This paper is the first empirical attempt in the literature to investigate whether the risk of infectious diseases affects demand for physical cash. Since the intensity of cash use may influence the spread of infectious diseases, this paper utilizes two-stage least squares (2SLS) methodology with instrumental variable (IV) to address omitted variable bias and account for potential endogeneity. The analysis indicates that the spread of infectious diseases lowers demand for physical cash, after controlling for macroeconomic, financial, and technological factors. While the transactional constraints imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic could become a catalyst for the use of digital technologies around the world, electronic payment methods may not be universally available in every country owing to financial and technological bottlenecks.
This paper discusses Liberia’s Request for an Extension of the Arrangement Under the Extended Credit Facility (ECF). From mid-2014 to mid-2015, Liberia faced a serious Ebola virus disease crisis, which triggered the declaration of a state of emergency. End-June 2014 performance criteria (PCs) and indicative targets were met, except the revenue floor and the floor net foreign exchange position of the Central Bank of Liberia (CBL), and the ceiling on net domestic assets. The authorities are expected to request waivers for the missed PCs in light of corrective actions undertaken to improve revenue collection and strengthen the net foreign exchange position of the CBL. The IMF staff supports the authorities’ request to extend the ECF arrangement.
This paper discusses Liberia’s Request for Disbursement Under the Rapid Credit Facility (RCF) and Debt Relief Under the Catastrophe Containment and Relief (CCR) Trust. Economic activity has declined significantly, and fiscal and external financing needs are more pronounced than envisaged at the time of the Extended Credit Facility (ECF) augmentation. The authorities remain committed to the broad objectives of the ECF program. The IMF staff recommends approval of the authorities’ requests for a disbursement under the RCF and debt relief under the CCR Trust given the extensive economic damage caused by the Ebola outbreak and based on the authorities’ updated policy intentions and commitments.
KEY ISSUES Background. With the highest number of new and cumulative Ebola cases recorded to date, Liberia is the country most affected by the epidemic in West Africa. In addition to exacting a heavy human toll, the Ebola outbreak is having a severe economic and social impact, and could jeopardize the gains from a decade of peace. The largest sectors of the economy (agriculture, services and mining) have been weakened by the epidemic, resulting in significant financing gaps for the fiscal and external accounts. The closure of international borders and, in particular, the internal quarantines are disrupting labor and food supply, leading to shortages of basic commodities, depreciation pressures and higher inflation. Request. The authorities are requesting an ad-hoc augmentation of access under the ECF and an immediate additional disbursement of SDR 32.3 million, equivalent to 25 percent of quota, to help bridge the significant financing need that has emerged in the wake of the outbreak. The authorities are also requesting modification of end-December performance criteria to allow on-lending of the equivalent of the Fund support to the government. Appraisal. Staff supports the authorities’ request for an augmentation of access and immediate disbursement in light of the urgency and size of the balance of payments need. Staff also supports the requested modification of end-December 2014 performance criteria via a program adjustor to allow the on-lending of the additional Fund support to the government. Program status. The third ECF review was concluded on July 3, 2014. Available information indicates that the program remains on track and that continuous PCs are being met. Program financing. The proposed augmentation would complement assistance committed by other stakeholders including US$19 million in additional budget support from the African Development Bank and the World Bank, and would help catalyze support from other donors. The authorities have committed to take the necessary measures to address any residual financing gap.