Daily Management Review

IMF And World Bank Contemplating 'Virtual' Meeting In April Due To Coronavirus Concerns


Both the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank are contemplating to scale down their Spring Meetings to be held in April or conduct them through teleconference because of the growing concerns within these global financial institutions about the fast spreading of the coronovirus, said a report published by Reuters.
It is estimated that about 10,000 government officials, journalists, business people and representatives of the civil society from all across the world are set to attend the Spring Meetings of the institutions between April 17 and 19 where they will be discussion issues in a small two-block area in downtown Washington, DC, where both the institutions are headquartered.
News that the coronavirus is spreading rapidly in Europe has caused a sharp fall in the global financial markets in recent days across the world. More than 400 new confirmed cases of the virus infection was reported from Italy while a number of people who had recently visited Italy were also reported to have tested positive for the disease in Brazil, Algeria, Austria, Croatia, Greece and other countries.
The mechanism of spreading of this virus is similar to other known viruses. Healthy people can get infected with the virus if they come into contact with an infected person and the virus can spread through droplets in the breath of the infected individual or when the infected person coughs or sneezes as well as through surfaces that are contaminated such as door handles or railings.
In recent times, the global growth forecast for 2020 has been cut by 0.1 per cent as it fears of a deeper economic impact because of the spread of the coronavirus outside of China.
Both the Fund and World Bank insiders are concerned that the virus can potentially spread when people from their 189 member countries participate in close interactions during its Spring Meetings.
While it is premature to even conjecture the cancellations of the meeting outright, a number of options to modify them are being considered by the institutions, said officials from both the financial institutions as well as member governments, Reuters reported. They said that no decision has been made yet and added that the decision will depend on whether it is possible to contain the spread of the virus in the next coming days and weeks leading up to the meetings.
Reuters reported that modifications that are being contemplated to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus include the reducing the number and duration of the meetings, complete cancellation of external events and curbing the number of people in delegations from various countries who would be attending the meetings in Washington.
Another very viable alternative that is being considered includes holding of “virtual” meetings by teleconference which would allow both the institutions to hold full-fledged meetings.
“Plenty of people here see wider merit in testing whether holding key meetings virtually could be made to work,” a person with knowledge of the matter was quoted as saying by Reuters.
“Of course we are thinking about all eventualities,” one of the sources familiar with the planning efforts was quoted in the Reuters report as saying.