China Supports G20 Proposal to Extend Debt Relief to Poor Countries

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Beijing: China supports a G20 proposal to further extend debt relief to poor countries, the head of its central bank, Yi Gang, told a G20 videoconference on Thursday, according to a statement on the central bank’s website.

The Group of 20 nations, representing the world’s biggest economies, have agreed to extend the suspension of debt payments by an additional six months to support the most vulnerable countries in their fight against the coronavirus pandemic.

The G-20 says the extension will provide ongoing relief for the $14bn in debt payments that would have come due at the end of the year otherwise. Wednesday’s decision gives developing nations until the end of June 2021 to focus spending on health care and emergency stimulus programs rather than debt repayments.

The G-20 announcement was made initially on Twitter during a meeting of the group’s finance ministers and central bank governors and later confirmed at a news conference. The virtual discussions are being held at the start of this week’s meetings of the 189-nation International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, which are also being conducted virtually because of the coronavirus pandemic.

International aid groups expressed disappointment that more debt relief isn’t being provided by extending the moratorium on debt payments for a full year or by forgiving part of the debt rather than merely suspending payments.

“This pandemic has laid bare a glaring and unjust double standard: The world’s wealthiest countries play by one set of rules, and the world’s poorest by another,” said David McNair, executive director for global policy at ONE, an international aid group.

G20 officials argued that the relief that is being provided is helping 46 of the 73 countries eligible, with efforts under way to expand.


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