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IMF announces implementation of US$650 billion SDR allocation

The newly created Special Drawing Rights (SDRs) will be credited to IMF member countries in proportion to their existing quotas in the Fund

Kristalina Georgieva, the managing director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) Monday (23 August) has announced that the allocation of the US$650 billion Special Drawing Rights (SDRs) has taken effect.

“The largest allocation of Special Drawing Rights (SDRs) in history—about US$650 billion—comes into effect today (23 August 2021). The allocation is a significant shot in the arm for the world and, if used wisely, a unique opportunity to combat this unprecedented crisis.

“The SDR allocation will provide additional liquidity to the global economic system – supplementing countries’ foreign exchange reserves and reducing their reliance on more expensive domestic or external debt. Countries can use the space provided by the SDR allocation to support their economies and step up their fight against the crisis,” Georgieva said in a statement.

She said, “SDRs are being distributed to countries in proportion to their quota shares in the IMF. This means about US$275 billion is going to emerging and developing countries, of which low-income countries will receive about US$21 billion – equivalent to as much as 6 percent of GDP in some cases.

“SDRs are a precious resource and the decision on how best to use them rests with our member countries. For SDRs to be deployed for the maximum benefit of member countries and the global economy, those decisions should be prudent and well-informed.”

“To support countries, and help ensure transparency and accountability, the IMF is providing a framework for assessing the macroeconomic implications of the new allocation, its statistical treatment and governance, and how it might affect debt sustainability. The IMF will also provide regular updates on all SDR holdings, transactions, and trading – including a follow-up report on the use of SDRs in two years’ time.

The IMF managing director added, “To magnify the benefits of this allocation, the IMF is encouraging voluntary channeling of some SDRs from countries with strong external positions to countries most in need. Over the past 16 months, some members have already pledged to lend US$24 billion, including US$15 billion from their existing SDRs, to the IMF’s Poverty Reduction and Growth Trust, which provides concessional loans to low-income countries. This is just a start, and the IMF will continue to work with our members to build on this effort.

“The IMF is also engaging with its member countries on the possibility of a new Resilience and Sustainability Trust, which could use channeled SDRs to help the most vulnerable countries with structural transformation, including confronting climate-related challenges. Another possibility could be to channel SDRs to support lending by multilateral development banks.

The newly created SDRs will be credited to IMF member countries in proportion to their existing quotas in the Fund.

About US$275 billion (about SDR 193 billion) of the new allocation will go to emerging markets and developing countries, including low-income countries.

“We will also continue to engage actively with our membership to identify viable options for voluntary channeling of SDRs from wealthier to poorer and more vulnerable member countries to support their pandemic recovery and achieve resilient and sustainable growth”, Georgieva said.

One key option is for members that have strong external positions to voluntarily channel part of their SDRs to scale up lending for low-income countries through the IMF’s Poverty Reduction and Growth Trust (PRGT). Concessional support through the PRGT is currently interest free.

The IMF is also exploring other options to help poorer and more vulnerable countries in their recovery efforts. A new Resilience and Sustainability Trust could be considered to facilitate more resilient and sustainable growth in the medium term.

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