© Reuters. Steiner from UNDP speaks during the presentation of the UNDP Human Development Report 2019 in Bogotá
By Andrea Shalal WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The coronavirus pandemic has exacerbated the debt problems facing 72 low- and middle-income countries and jeopardized $ 598 billion in debt service payments from 2021 to 2025, including $ 87,000. million this year, the United Nations Development Program reported. Thursday. Only 49 of the 72 countries are eligible for the debt relief measures adopted by the Group of 20 major economies, UNDP Administrator Achim Steiner told reporters, urging G20 members to quickly extend a moratorium on debt. debt service payments and a common framework for debt treatment beyond the poorest. nations. “It is becoming increasingly clear … that in the absence of acting in a more ambitious way, the crisis will increase exponentially,” Steiner told reporters. Failure to act boldly now would prolong the health crisis and increase the risk of more vaccine-resistant coronavirus mutations, he said. Steiner said the research showed that a possible worst-case scenario would put 1 billion people in extreme poverty by 2030, including some 250 million directly as a result of political decisions made to manage the COVID-19 crisis. He said the depth of the human tragedy caused by the pandemic “was neither inevitable nor inevitable”, adding that a “slow-burning debt crisis” would delay development goals for years. Nineteen countries were “very vulnerable,” representing $ 220 billion in debt payments at risk, said UNDP chief economist George Molina. Steiner called for the development of a mechanism that allows richer countries to contribute to a $ 650 billion expansion of the International Monetary Fund’s emergency reserves to help vulnerable middle-income countries. Molina noted that dozens of middle-income countries and small island states did not have access to the $ 16 trillion in fiscal measures spent by the richest economies or the debt relief measures available to the poorest. Steiner said the credit rating downgrade has compounded the problems, increasing borrowing costs in capital markets in countries like Kenya, where the interest rate on a 10-year bond was 12.6%, compared to 1.6% of a comparable US bond.