IMF, World Bank ready to respond to Venezuelan humanitarian crisis

Friday, April 12, 2019

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WASHINGTON, DC, United States (AP) — The International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank said yesterday they are ready to respond to the humanitarian crisis in Venezuela once their participation is requested.

The country is suffering hyperinflation and the economy is rapidly shrinking, causing enormous hardships.

Output by the Government oil company and other nationalised firms has plummeted in recent years, and new US sanctions are also hurting.

But President Nicolás Maduro and his predecessor Hugo Chávez have shunned the two international lending agencies, which they have accused of imposing damaging austerity policies on nations they aid.

Neither the World Bank nor IMF has decided whether to recognise Maduro's legitimacy or that of US-backed congressional leader Juan Guaidó, who has declared himself interim president.

“The bank will be involved as the situation evolves and the bank is preparing for that, but the situation is still very troublesome on the ground in Venezuela,” World Bank Group President David Malpass said during a news conference.

Managing Director Christine Lagarde said in a separate press conference that the IMF has done “as much preparatory work as we could, drawing on information that is out there, in order to be prepared to act as quickly as we can”.

Lagarde said that given the magnitude of the crisis and the collapse of the economy, the response will require “a multi-task and multi-pronged effort on the part of many”.

The fund projected this week that the Venezuelan economy will shrink 25 per cent this year after contracting 18 per cent in 2018.

But neither the IMF nor the bank can act before they make a decision on who legitimately governs Venezuela.

Many countries in the Americas and Europe recognise Guaidó, arguing that Maduro's re-election as president last year was invalid.

But important countries such as Russia and China continue to recognise Maduro.

“We are waiting to be guided by the membership (on the decision) and I know that it is in process at the moment as we speak from quite a few members,” she said.

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