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IMF, World Bank switch to virtual spring meetings due to coronavirus

The coronavirus outbreak is plunging the world economy into its worst downturn since the global financial crisis more than 10 years ago, OECD said

Reuters  |  Washington 

coronavirus
IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva and World Bank President David Malpass said their goal was to serve their membership effectively while ensuring the health and safety of participants and staff

The Monetary Fund and the World Bank, citing concerns about the fast-spreading coronavirus, on Tuesday said they will adopt a "virtual format" for their Spring Meetings instead of convening in person in Washington.

The institutions' Spring Meetings, scheduled this year for April 17-19, usually bring some 10,000 government officials, journalists, business people and civil society representatives from across the globe to a tightly packed, two-block area of downtown Washington that houses their headquarters.

"Given growing health concerns related to the virus, the Management of the and Group and their Executive Boards have agreed to implement a joint plan to adapt the 2020 IMF-Spring Meetings to a virtual format," the leaders of the two institutions said in a joint statement.

The outbreak is plunging the world economy into its worst downturn since the global financial crisis more than 10 years ago, the warned on Monday.

Managing Director and President said their goal was to serve their membership effectively while ensuring the health and safety of participants and staff.

They said the institutions would leverage IT-related and virtual connection capabilities to hold essential policy consultations, while continuing to share and World Bank analyses.

"With this adapted format, we are confident that our member countries will be able to effectively engage on pressing global economic issues at these Spring Meetings," they said.

The rapid spread of the virus had raised concerns inside the IMF and the World Bank that the close interactions among people from their 189 member countries at the Spring Meetings could inadvertently contribute to the problem.

After the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on New York and Washington, the IMF and World Bank canceled their annual meetings scheduled for later that month in the U.S. capital. The meetings were reconvened in November 2001 in Ottawa, Canada.

The by-laws of both institutions state that their annual meetings of boards of governors, normally held in the fall, must be held in person.

 

First Published: Wed, March 04 2020. 09:35 IST
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