French President Emmanuel Macron urges G20 Finance ministers to suspend debt and help Africa deal with coronavirus

In a speech to the nation, France's President Emmanuel Macron rejects racism, but says removing controversial colonial era statues is not the answer either. Credit: Twiiter

French President Emmanuel Macron has called for a moratorium on debt to help African countries deal with the Covid-19 pandemic.

IN his televised address to the nation on France’s plans for dealing with the next stage of the Covid-19 epidemic, Emmanuel Macron made passing reference about aid for Africa.

The French president has told RFI he was urging G20 finance ministers to agree to a suspension of debt payments when they hold a phone conference on Wednesday evening.

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“For as long as the crisis lasts, we must ensure African economies have breathing room, that they are not held back by repayments on debt,” said the president.

For the French president, the moratorium would be a step towards ultimately cancelling African debt. Asked how creditors in Europe, the United States, and China might be convinced to renounce US$365 billion’ worth of debt owing, Macron spoke of the use of International Monetary Fund (IMF) special drawing rights and growing political will.

“This [moratorium] means suspending payment of interest, to allow some breathing space. We spread out the debt, and perhaps in time, everyone will be on board with this idea” of debt cancellation.

Macron is not the sole top official to call for a debt moratorium in recent days. The IMF and the World Bank have also called on wealthy nations to suspend or cancel debt obligations for poor countries during the coronavirus pandemic.

French Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire said on Tuesday he expected his counterparts in the United States, China, Europe and other members of the G20 group of major economies would finalise plans to suspend debt payments for 76 countries, including 40 in sub-Saharan Africa.

While the Covid-19 pandemic appears to have affected Africa less than other parts of the world, Macron called for prudence and said the continent was already facing unsustainable economic problems.



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