March 23, 2020 / 5:15 PM / in 11 days

World Bank could deploy $150 billion over 15 months in coronavirus battle

FILE PHOTO: World Bank President David Malpass attends the "1+6" Roundtable meeting at the Diaoyutai state guesthouse in Beijing, China November 21, 2019. REUTERS/Florence Lo/File Photo

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - World Bank Group President David Malpass on Monday said that the development lender could deploy as much as $150 billion in resources over the next 15 months to help developing countries fight and recover from the coronavirus pandemic.

Malpass, in a statement to G20 finance ministers and central bank governors released by the World Bank, also called on G20 creditor nations to allow the poorest countries to suspend all payments on bilateral debt while they battle the virus.

Malpass said the poorest countries should be allowed to concentrate their resources on their health responses to the crisis.

“I’m calling on the G20 leaders to allow the poorest countries to suspend all repayments of official bilateral credit, until the World Bank and the IMF (International Monetary Fund) have made a full assessment of their reconstruction and financing needs,” he said in a statement.

The World Bank is now preparing projects in 49 countries to help fight the virus under a new fast-track credit facility, and decisions were expected this week on as many as 16 of these projects, Malpass said.

He said the institution was consulting with China and other key countries to obtain help with the rapid manufacture and delivery of many of medical supplies to countries in need.

Reporting by David Lawder; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Lisa Shumaker

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