WB expresses concern about poor in densely populated countries like India during COVID-19 crisis

Lalit K Jha

Washington, Mar 26 (PTI) World bank President David Malpass on Thursday expressed concern about the destitute in the densely populated countries such as India during the coronavirus pandemic and said that the crisis will hit the poor nations that have high levels of indebtedness the hardest.

Malpass was speaking at the G20 Virtual Summit on the COVID-19 pandemic hosted by Saudi Arabia, which holds the G20 presidency this year.

The Summit, which was also attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Donald Trump, was convened to formulate a joint approach to address the challenges posed by the deadly coronavirus globally.

“I'm particularly concerned about poor, densely populated countries such as India, where weak health systems need massively scalable investments in human capital, supplies and infrastructure. We are working hard to provide support through our public and private sector tools,” Malpass said in his address to the G20 leaders.

“We have new COVID-related projects underway in 56 countries, and we're encouraging other MDBs to co-finance follow-up tranches. In 24 countries, we're restructuring existing projects in order to direct funds to the health emergency,” Malpass said.

Asserting that the private sector support is critical, Malpass said that International Finance Corporation, which is the private sector arm of the World Bank, is already working on new investments in 300 companies and extending trade finance and working capital lines to clients.

The World Bank, he said, has worked to take broad swift action to respond to the coronavirus pandemic.

On March 17, it approved a USD 14 billion package, focused on the immediate health and social consequences of the outbreak. It is now finalizing an additional package that will focus on the broader economic consequences, he said.

Malpass said that this crisis will hit hardest poor countries that have high levels of indebtedness.

“A broad and equitable debt relief process is urgently needed, so International Development Association countries (IDA) can concentrate their resources on fighting the pandemic and its economic and social consequences,” he said. PTI LKJ RS RS