July 6, 2020 / 11:58 PM / a month ago

Next World Bank, IMF meetings to be virtual: World Bank chief

FILE PHOTO: The International Monetary Fund (IMF) headquarters building is seen ahead of the IMF/World Bank spring meetings in Washington, U.S., April 8, 2019. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The World Bank and International Monetary Fund will hold their annual Fall Meetings online in October because of the novel coronavirus pandemic, World Bank President David Malpass said in a letter to the Bank’s governors.

Malpass also encouraged those countries that are considering appointing new executive directors to represent them on the Bank’s boards to factor gender diversity into their decisions. Only five of 25 current directors are women, he said.

The decision to meet virtually, rather than in person in Washington, was widely expected given rising infections in the United States, and continuing travel restrictions.

The two international finance institutions also held their Spring Meetings online in April, and IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva and other officials have said they expect to shift more of their work to virtual meetings in the future.

In his letter, posted on the LinkedIn business networking site, Malpass underscored the Bank’s commitment to addressing the economic impact of the pandemic and helping developing countries take steps toward recovery.

“The COVID-19 crisis and economic shutdown threaten to reverse much of the development progress made in recent years and throw hundreds of millions of people back into poverty,” Malpass wrote.

He said the Bank had approved emergency health projects in over 100 countries and was providing working capital and trade finance for the private sector in developing countries.

The Bank’s preliminary and unaudited commitments in fiscal 2020 would likely total about $74 billion, up sharply from fiscal 2019, with total financing in the 15 months ending June 30, 2021, to reach as high as $160 billion, he wrote.

Malpass called again for additional steps to help some of the poorest countries deal with unsustainable debt burdens, in addition to an offer by the Group of 20 major economies to freeze debt-service payments through the end of the year.

Reporting by Andrea Shalal; Editing by Sandra Maler and Peter Cooney

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