Civil Society Orgs Call IMF for Fair Channeling of SDR

2021-09-16, 2:07pm Finance

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GW News Desk

Civil Society organisations from across the globe are urging the G20 and the IMF (International Monetary Fund) for a fair channeling of Special Drawing Rights from IMF to benefit economies of the developing countries to help finance Covid response and hasten an equitable and inclusive economic recovery. 

In a joint petition addressed to the G20 Finance Ministers, Central Bank Governors and the IMF they say, ‘With the SDR distribution being proportional to IMF countries’ quotas, the new allocation of US$650 billion does not ensure sufficient SDRs go to developing countries.’  

The joint letter which is now being signed by civil society organizations is as follows:

As the pandemic exacerbates multiple crises in developing countries, Special Drawing Rights (SDRs) are a crucial option to help finance the COVID response and hasten an equitable and inclusive economic recovery. With the SDR distribution being proportional to IMF countries’ quotas, the new allocation of US$650 billion does not ensure sufficient SDRs go to developing countries. This is why many have been calling for an allocation in the order of US$3 trillion (link to the letter: https://bit.ly/3peg8h6). Moreover, advanced economies are in less need of SDRs given their access to a wider array of monetary and financial tools for the response and recovery. Thus, it is essential that the recent allocation be quickly followed by rechanneling a significant portion of advanced economies’ SDRs to developing countries.

We strongly believe that successful and equitable recovery is contingent on transparency and a participatory process inclusive of civil society in all countries. This also applies to international spaces making decisions on SDR channeling mechanisms, including the G20 and the IMF, where civil society has not had, so far, sufficient opportunities to engage on this matter.

We urge you to ensure SDR channeling options align with a basic framework of principles that many academics, experts and civil society colleagues around the world echoed over recent months.

THE CHANNELING OPTIONS SHOULD:

1. Provide debt-free financing, so it does not add to unsustainable debt burdens of developing countries, whose annual external public debt payments are projected to average US$300 billion over 2021 and 2022. Grant-based financing is ideal but, if additional loans are to be offered, then maximum concessionality is critical (zero interest and lengthy repayment terms with extended grace periods).

2. Refrain from tying transfers to policy conditionality (directly or indirectly). Conditionality will lengthen the time it takes to negotiate such financing, could force countries into adopting difficult adjustment or austerity measures; or put the financing beyond reach for countries unable to comply with such conditions.

3. Be accessible to middle-income countries. These countries have persistently been left out of debt relief initiatives and concessional financing, and should not be excluded from yet another financial assistance option when many of them face deep debt distress and challenging pandemic vulnerabilities.

4. Include transparency and accountability safeguards on both providers and recipients of such financing in the spirit of democratic ownership, strengthening independent scrutiny, participation and accountability to citizens.

5. Ensure that SDR contributions are additional to existing ODA and climate finance commitments. Only SDRs channelled to developing countries as grants should count as ODA, or, where appropriate, against the climate finance goal of US$100 billion.

6. Prioritize SDR use that expands international grant funding for combatting the pandemic through budget support for public services and the public sector workforce in health and education, for social protection and other needs. Grants can also target promotion of a fair recovery that supports climate justice, and tackles economic and gender inequality, including the unpaid care burden that women bear, and the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated.

We also call for agreement on a global repository to report on channeled SDRs. This will help limit fragmentation and be an important measure for accountability of commitments and tracking the overall impact of SDRs, including for ongoing learning. 

We are aware that the Poverty Reduction and Growth Trust (PRGT) is being considered as a favoured option for SDRs channeling; however, it is important to note that the PRGT does not reflect the principles of being debt-free, conditionality-free, and accessible to all developing countries. We urge you to consider ways to improve the PRGT option, including channeling via its emergency financing vehicle (Rapid Credit Facility). 

We also encourage you to identify SDR channeling mechanisms that support debt cancellation, including through the Catastrophe Containment and Relief Trust, and to consider alternative options which align best with the principles stated above.

To create options to scale up SDR channeling volumes and reach more developing countries we encourage you to seriously discuss alternative options beyond the PRGT and beyond the IMF more broadly. However, other rechanneling vehicles under discussion, such as a Resilience and Sustainability Trust and Multilateral Development Banks, still appear far from embodying these principles.

Finally, neither the initial SDR allocation nor the channeling of SDRs can be a substitute for the urgent implementation of debt relief measures that benefit both low- and middle- income countries, especially to ensure that the additional resources are not directed to repay external private and other creditors.