Millions fall into ‘extreme poverty’
THE head of the World Bank warned on Tuesday that the novel coronavirus crisis threatens to push some 60 million people into extreme poverty, wiping out the gains made over the past three years.
The global lending institution is already financing aid programmes in 100 countries, under its commitment to spend $160 billion over the next 15 months, bank president David Malpass said.
“That’s home to 70 per cent of t he world’s popu lat ion. This represents a signif icant mi lestone,” Malpass told a conference ca ll.
Malpass said the bank anticipates a five per cent contraction in the world economy this year, with severe effects on the poorest countries.
“We estimate that up to 60 million people will be pushed into extreme povert y, erasing a ll the progress made in pover t y a l lev iat ion i n t he past three years, and our forecasts i ndicate a deep recession,” Malpass said.
Nearly five million people have been infected by the coronavirus around the world, and more than 300,000 have died since it first appeared in China in late 2019.
So far, the World Bank has spent $5.5 billion to shore up beleaguered health systems, economies and social services in poor countries.
But Malpass stressed that the World Bank’s efforts alone were insufficient, and urged donor nations to step up bilateral aid to poorer countries to ensure a durable recovery.
He said restoring the f low of remit t a nce pay ment s a nd tou r i sm – ke y s ou rc e s of income for developing countries – would be “critical steps in t he reopening”.
A year-long moratorium on debt payments by less developed countries – called for by the G20 in mid-April – has gained growing acceptance, he noted.
Malpass sa id 14 countries have agreed to such a suspension of debt payments, another 23 are expected to request it, and 17 were giv ing it serious consideration.
“That’s a very welcome and very fast response and positive response to the G20 countries’ commitment,” he said.