By Ndubuisi Francis
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has stated that a multilateral response is critical to overcome the COVID-19 pandemic in India and globally.
IMF hailed recent announcements by several countries to provide immediate support to India, which is grappling with a second wave of the pandemic and over 3,00,000 new coronavirus cases being reported daily in the past few days, as hospitals reel under a shortage of medical oxygen and beds.
The Director, Communications Department of the IMF, Gerry Rice, at a news conference in Washington DC, United States of America, Thursday said: “Our sympathy and condolences to the Indian people on the human tragedy that is taking place there as a result of the COVID-19 crisis.
“We continue to engage closely with the Indian authorities. We stand ready to strengthen that engagement and to scale up our technical collaboration.”
According to him, the human tragedy, indeed, is a stark reminder that the pandemic continues to be a grave threat globally.
Rice said the IMF was redoubling its efforts to foster global collaboration, adding: “We welcome the most recent announcements by several countries, to provide immediate support to India. We believe a multilateral response is critical to overcome the pandemic in India and globally.”
Over 40 countries have committed to provide India urgently required medical supplies like oxygen-related equipment and critical medicines to help it deal with an unprecedented second wave of the coronavirus pandemic.
Observing that the human dimensions of this tragedy are uppermost on IMF’s mind, Rice said the latest World Economic Outlook in April envisaged an economic recovery in India with growth projected at around 12.5 per cent in fiscal years 2021 and 2022.
The IMF chief however observed that the recent upsurge in the COVID-19 cases imply that downside risks which the multilateral lending agency had also spoken about earlier time are materialising.
Noting that the Fund was following these developments very closely, he disclosed that the IMF is revisiting that growth forecast in its World Economic Outlook update, which will be forthcoming in July.
He stated that India will be critical to continue with a coordinated policy response to fight the virus, including through accelerating the vaccination campaign and providing fiscal resources to the health sector and social support to the most vulnerable as immediate policy priorities.
Observing that everyone is watching what is happening in India with concern, Rice said the economic impact of it will really depend on the path of the pandemic and how long the serious situation goes on.
Rice acknowledged that there will be spillover of India’s economic situation in the neighbourhood as well, adding that this will be contingent on how deep and how long the severity of the crisis continues.
He pointed out that that is important to not just countries around India, but also to the global economy as well.
“There would be some impact there. In terms of our overall assessment, not just of India and the region but the global economy, but I don”t have any specifics on that at this point. Again, the situation is unfolding. We’re assessing it, and we”ll have more to say at the time of the WEO update in July,” Rice said.