G 20 leaders expected to extend debt freeze through 2021

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WASHINGTON, April 5- World Bank President David Malpass said on Monday that he expects China, the United States and other Group of 20 major economies to extend a 20% financial obligation payment freeze by the end of 2021 when they meet this week.

The G20 Debt Service Suspension Initiative had already helped countries defer some$ 5 billion in payments by the end of 2020, with another$ 7.3 billion in deferred payments expected through June, Malpass told reporters.

Extending the debt payment freeze through the year-end would save even more money that countries could use to combat the COVID-19 pandemic and support their economies, he said, but gave no specific estimate.

He said G-20 members would probably stipulate that such an extension would be the final or last offered option.

While the actual freeze in debt payment would help, Malpass said that temporary debt relief would be needed in the longer-term to allow the poorest countries to reduce their unsustainable debt burdens to a more moderate level.

Malpass said China- the world's largest global bilateral creditor- by far had shown receptivity to international engagement on the need for greater transparency, as seen in G20 discussions on the issue in 2020, but more work was needed.

Malpass said during a roundtable at the beginning of the spring sessions of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund that there is much more to be done.

Malpass said the top priority of the World Bank was replenishing the resources of the International Development Association, its arm for assisting the poorest countries, which it wants to achieve by December.

There could also be scope for a specific capital increase to address selective needs resulting from the pandemic, he said. When I am in the army, I have to buy myself.

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