World Bank remains outlier on debt relief: Oxfam

Published: 17th April 2020

In response to World Bank Group President David Malpass’ remarks today during and after the Bank’s Development Committee Meeting, Nadia Daar, Head of Oxfam International’s Washington DC Office, said:

"Despite the clear message President Malpass sends on the critical importance of addressing debt, the Bank is the only one to fail to make any commitment on debt relief. This is a huge shame. Development banks should not hide behind excuses of credit rating drops. They must urgently cancel all developing country debt payments for 2020."

The world's poorest countries owe roughly $12.4 billion in debt payments this year to multilateral institutions —a major portion of it to the World Bank.

Daar added: “To help countries respond to the coronavirus pandemic, we urge the World Bank to prioritize grants that don’t need to be repaid. Even low or interest-free loans will saddle the poorest countries with more unmanageable debts, while middle-income countries desperately need a lifeline of concessional finance to avoid sinking deeper into debt.

“The Bank and its shareholders need to get creative to make this happen. The International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD), the Bank's fund for middle-income countries, should find a way to offer zero-interest loans with extraordinarily favorable terms and longer grace periods. 

“Donors must also play their part —if the Bank’s fast-tracked funding isn’t followed up with new money, it is the equivalent to stealing money from the future and other urgent needs.  We can't let women die in childbirth because general health funding has been redirected to the coronavirus response."

Notes to editors

Download Oxfam's new statement to the IMF and World Bank: A Response Like No Other: Urgent Action needed by the International Financial Institutions.

Contact information

Annie Thériault in Montreal, Canada | | +51 936 307 990  

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