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International Monetary Fund
This paper proposes that the Executive Board determine that the global COVID-19 pandemic constitutes a Qualifying Public Health Disaster (QPHD) under the Catastrophe Containment (CC) Window of the Catastrophe Containment and Relief Trust (CCRT), in line with the new QPHD test approved by the Board on March 26. The CCRT has sufficient financial resources for an initial tranche of grant assistance for debt service relief covering eligible debt falling due from all CCRT-eligible members through October 13, 2020. Fundraising efforts continue to secure the financial resources needed to commit future such tranches for CCRT debt service relief, up to a cap of two years. Staff considers that the 25 members requesting CCRT assistance qualify for immediate CCRT relief.
International Monetary Fund
In direct response to the COVID-19 crisis the International Monetary Fund (IMF) Executive Board has adopted some immediate enhancements to its Catastrophe Containment and Relief Trust (CCRT) to enable the Fund to provide debt service relief for its poorest and most vulnerable members. The CCRT enables the IMF to deliver grants for debt relief benefiting eligible low-income countries in the wake of catastrophic natural disasters and major, fast-spreading public health emergencies.
Mr. Olumuyiwa S Adedeji, Mr. Calixte Ahokpossi, Claudio Battiati, and Mrs. Mai Farid
What constitutes fiscal space or a prudent level of debt to conduct countercyclical policy while ensuring debt sustainability? This paper addresses the question by exploring the relationship between debt dynamics, and the probabilistic distribution of the primary balance and the effective interest rate. This proposed approach is useful in situations where the lack of relevant data makes it difficult to estimate detailed fiscal reaction functions. Applying this approach to Low-Income Developing Countries (LIDCs) and based on various debt ceiling assumptions, we find that about 60 percent of these countries presently have fiscal policy space to address adverse shocks, subject to the availability of domestic and external financing. Countries with strong institutional capacity tend to have more fiscal space, and countries with weak institutional capacity, mostly countries in conflict and fragile states, tend to lack fiscal space.
International Monetary Fund
The reform of the Fund’s policy on the use of conditionality on public external debt in Fund-supported programs (the “debt limits policy”) has been under discussion since March 2013. The discussion has taken place against a backdrop where lower income countries are seeking to boost growth through higher public investment levels, targeted in particular at large infrastructure gaps, while facing both a wider range of external financing opportunities and limits on the supply of traditional concessional financing. The reform of the Fund’s policy on debt conditionality in 2009 was a first step to accommodate these new realities: experience with the 2009 reforms has pointed to the need for more fundamental reforms to provide countries with greater flexibility to finance productive investments while containing risks to medium-term debt sustainability. The reforms proposed here build on the Board review of the debt limits policy in March 2013, ensuing informal Board discussions in January and May 2014, discussions at an informal seminar in September 2014, and various stakeholder consultations. In developing this reform proposal, staff has sought to first specify a robust set of principles to guide the use of public debt conditionality in all Fund arrangements and then examine how these principles should apply in the specific circumstances of countries that normally rely on official external concessional financing.
Toan Quoc Nguyen, Mr. Benedict J. Clements, and Ms. Rina Bhattacharya

Abstract

The Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) Initiative, launched in 1999 by the IMF and the World Bank, was the first coordinated effort by the international financial community to reduce the foreign debt of the world’s poorest countries. It was based on the theory that economic growth in heavily indebted poor countries was being stifled by heavy debt burdens, making it virtually impossible for these countries to escape poverty. However, most of the empirical research on the effects of debt on growth has lumped together a diverse group of countries, and the literature on the countries’ impact of debt on poor is scant. This pamphlet presents the findings of the authors’ empirical research into the subject, analyzing the channels through which debt affects growth in low-income countries.

International Monetary Fund
Building on initial discussions of the proposed framework in February/March 2004, and further considerations in September 2004, this paper responds to remaining concerns that need to be resolved to make the framework operational. These concerns relate to the indicative debt-burden thresholds (Section II); the interaction of the framework with the HIPC Initiative (Section III); and the modalities for Bank-Fund collaboration in deriving a common assessment of sustainability (Section IV). This note should be read in conjunction with the original proposal, which presented the wider issues on the use of the indicative thresholds, the evaluation of policies and institutions, and the need for discretion when assessing sustainability on a forward-looking basis.