The coronavirus pandemic may have driven as many as 100 million people back into extreme poverty, World Bank President David Malpass warned Thursday, August 20.
The Washington-based development lender previously estimated that 60 million people would fall into extreme poverty due to Covid-19, but the new estimate puts the deterioration at 70 to 100 million, and he said "that number could go higher" if the pandemic worsens or drags on.
The situation makes it "imperative" that creditors reduce the amount of debt held by poor countries at risk, going beyond the commitment to suspend debt payments, Malpass said in an interview with AFP.
Even so, more countries will be obliged to restructure their debt.
"The debt vulnerabilities are high, and the imperative of getting light at the end of the tunnel so that new investors can come in is substantial," Malpass said.
Advanced economies in the Group of 20 already have committed to suspending debt payments from the poorest nations through the end of the year, and there is growing support for extending that moratorium into next year amid a pandemic that has killed nearly 800,000 people and sickened more than 25 million worldwide.