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Views from the Center

CGD experts offer ideas and analysis to improve international development policy. Also check out our Global Health blog and US Development Policy blog.

 

Stacks of US dollars. Adobe Stock

More Than $1 Trillion in MDB Firepower Exists as We Approach a COVID-19 “Break the Glass” Moment

In retrospect, the scale up in MDB financing during the 2008-2010 crisis, though significant, now looks conservative as we consider the potential scale of damage from the current COVID-19 pandemic. To put the question bluntly, if the human and economic devastation follows a worst-case scenario, just how much could the MDBs do to respond? We attempt to answer that question by assessing the legal, rather than prudential, constraints on MDB lending.

An aerial view of Dhaka, Bangladesh. Photo by Dominic Chavez / World Bank

“Spend What It Takes” to Respond to COVID-19 in Poor Countries, Too

It is now only a question of when, not if, the COVID-19 pandemic will exact its human and economic toll on the poor and developing countries of South Asia, Africa, and Latin America the way it is already ravaging East Asia, Europe, and North America. And when it does, they too will need to respond with exceptional heath and financial measures in the face of this unprecedented global challenge.

A worker at a power station in Kabul. Photo by Graham Crouch, World Bank

5 Principles on the Uses and Misuses of Debt Relief to Address the Coronavirus Pandemic

Debt relief for low-income countries is on the table of measures to consider for coronavirus response. The imperative right now is to get cash to LICs as quickly as possible. Suspending some debt service payments may be a good first step in freeing up some budget space for new spending. Beyond that, protracted debt-relief negotiations with multilateral and commercial creditors right now could be a distraction at best but could also actively undermine the ability of institutions like the World Bank to offer new financing for crisis response.

A pile of money, giftwrapped. Adobe Stock.

Development Finance Institutions Should Be Instruments of Public Policy, Not Private Gain

The World Bank Group has some very clear (and very good) guidelines about what makes for a successful public-private partnership where governments contract service provision like energy supply or education from private firms. Sadly, the bank has been ignoring that rule recently. And that is a sign of a broader problem in donor-backed financing of public-private partnership deals.

An image of the financial sector buildings

Subsidy Use in Development Finance: Competitive, Capped, Transparent

When development finance institutions (DFIs) use subsidies to support private firms in developing countries, they fundamentally change the nature of their business. To ensure the maximum development impact of scarce aid resources, subsidies should be competitive wherever possible, capped if not competitive, and transparent in every case.

Chart showing estimates for additional spending by 2030

Tax Revenues in Africa Will be Insufficient to Finance Development Goals

The IMF estimates that on average, low-income countries (LIC) will need additional resources amounting to 15.4 percent of GDP to finance the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in education, health, roads, electricity, and water by 2030. These resource requirements are even greater in sub-Saharan Africa than in a typical LIC: the median sub-Saharan African country faces additional spending of about 19 percent of GDP. In the average LIC, the IMF estimates that of the required additional financing, 5 percentage points of GDP would have to come from domestic taxes.

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