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World Bank's Malpass: We need more transparency on COVID-19 vaccine rollout, debt servicing

Brian Cheung
·Reporter
·2 min read
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World Bank President David Malpass said more transparency is needed on debt servicing and the vaccine rollout, as the world’s most impoverished countries continue to struggle with the COVID-19 pandemic.

The World Bank has contributed $12 billion to countries for the purposes of funding vaccines. Some of those resources support COVAX, a global initiative to distribute vaccines to countries that may not have the financial resources to afford them. The World Bank also works directly with countries on funding, which it hopes will reach 40 countries.

But Malpass told Yahoo Finance that more transparency is needed on the distribution of the vaccine, worrying that existing capacity may be tied up in options and other production commitments to the advanced countries.

"What we're trying to do is have as many people vaccinated as quickly as possible in a fair and safe way," Malpass said.

The World Bank has a private sector development arm with $4 billion available to expand manufacturing, but the organization has said there needs to be more disclosure from those countries about who is receiving the doses.

World Bank President David Malpass responds to a question from a reporter during an opening press conference at the IMF and World Bank's 2019 Annual Fall Meetings of finance ministers and bank governors, in Washington, U.S., October 17, 2019. REUTERS/Mike Theiler
World Bank President David Malpass responds to a question from a reporter during an opening press conference at the IMF and World Bank's 2019 Annual Fall Meetings of finance ministers and bank governors, in Washington, U.S., October 17, 2019. REUTERS/Mike Theiler

While Malpass said the situation in some countries had improved, other countries like Yemen and Ethiopia have seen political headwinds that have further exacerbated the health crisis.

Debt servicing and climate

The bank has continued to ramp up its funding of projects in developing countries, with about $71 billion in commitments made in 2020 — a 65% increase over commitments made in 2019.

"Much of it going to the poorest countries in the form of grants and very concessional resources, so it's a big support mechanism," Malpass said.

The World Bank chief recently addressed finance ministers and central bank governors from the advanced nations, telling the G20 on Friday that their nations need to be more transparent about debt servicing agreements they are making with developing countries.

Malpass also underscored the need for more aggressive movement on climate change initiatives, saying that he was "pleased" with the Biden administration’s move to rejoin the Paris Agreement. The Trump administration nominated Malpass to the position in 2019 for a term ending 2024.

He added that debt reduction efforts targeting developing countries would help free up fiscal space to move toward infrastructures with smaller carbon footprints.

"The direction that the world needs to head is toward a greener, more resilient, more inclusive recovery," Malpass said. "How do you get a V-shaped recovery for most of the world, not just for the advanced economies?"

Brian Cheung is a reporter covering the Fed, economics, and banking for Yahoo Finance. You can follow him on Twitter @bcheungz.

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