No Time for Complacency over Ebola – IMF

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Christine Lagarde

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The International Monetary Fund is ramping up fund from international partners to support West African countries afflicted with the Ebola Virus Disease. Germany and UK at the meeting in Washington contributed $72 million

| By Maureen Chigbo | Apr. 27, 2015 @ 01:00 GMT |

CHRISTINE Lagarde, managing director of the International Monetary Fund, IMF, is urging countries whose inhabitants have been afflicted with Ebola in West Africa not to be complacent in their fight against the scourge which has claimed more than 7000 lives in the region. Lagarde spoke at a high level High-Level Ebola meeting entitled: “The Road to Recovery” on the sidelines of the IMF/ World Bank spring meeting In Washington on April 17,

“I am honored to speak today in the company of World Bank President Kim and UN Secretary-General Ban, and of Presidents Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia, Condé of Guinea, and Koroma of Sierra Leone. I would like to congratulate the three Presidents on their impressive leadership and on the progress made curbing the Ebola epidemic. Your countries have come a long way, and the eradication of this terrible disease seems to be within reach. But there is no time for complacency,” she said.

Lagarde emphasised the need that all the three countries face a second shock. “The recent sharp decline in commodity prices will significantly impair prospects for recovery. Many investors are considering delaying projects, while some operating mines have already suspended their activities,” she said.

This, according to her, “highlights the crucial importance of supporting the post-Ebola recovery by providing additional concessional financing, ideally in the form of grants. Significant investment in health, education, and physical infrastructure will be necessary.

“Given the decline in commodity prices, it is important to prioritise investments in these sectors and strengthen domestic revenue mobilization. It is equally important to strengthen public expenditure to ensure that every dollar spent translates into better services to the population, and in particular a lasting development of the health sector.”

She assured that the IMF will continue to help Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone develop sound macroeconomic policies and strengthen their financial institutions to support their recovery plans. “We have worked with your governments to assess the macroeconomic implications and the policy response. To date, we have provided financing of almost $390 million, including about $100 million in grants for IMF debt service relief from the recently established Catastrophe Containment and Relief Trust. This is immediate “cash in the bank” for these countries.

“Additionally, I am very pleased to be able to inform you that last night Germany and the United Kingdom, U.K., announced $72 million of additional contributions to this Trust. This puts us almost halfway to our goal of raising $150 million—during our Spring Meetings. I am strongly urging other countries to step up to ensure that we can provide debt relief in response to a future crisis like Ebola. We stand with you in the fight against Ebola—and in the fight for sustainable growth, development, and a better future for your countries. And we stand ready to provide financial assistance where the need exists,” she said.

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