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About half of the world’s countries – 90 nations – have asked the World Bank and International Monetary Fund for help in the wake of the global economic shutdown, and 60 already have applied for pieces of the $1.2 billion the agencies have together set aside for such requests.
The IMF’s board of directors, made up of representatives of member countries, has agreed to double the funding in two of the agency’s emergency lending programs from $50 billion to $100 billion. The programs make money available with few strings attached.
One fund makes interest-free loans to low-income countries; the other program’s loans carry interest at 1.5 percent.
Already, countries including Chad, Kyrgyzstan, Madagascar, and Rwanda have claimed about $20 billion of the funds.
The World Bank has expedited 27 virus-related loans, including $1 billion to India for virus-related health care, and it is processing 40 other requests.
At the beginning of this year, the IMF was forecasting incomes to grow in 2020 in 160 of its 189 member countries. Now it expects incomes to contract in 170, said Kristalina Georgieva, the IMF’s managing director.

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