Daily Management Review

IMF And World Bank To Hold Spring Meetings In Virtual Format Due To Coronavirus Concerns


A "virtual format" for their Spring Meetings will be held by the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank instead of gathering in person for their annual meeting in Washington because of the growing concerns about the fast-spreading coronavirus.
About 10,000 attendees comprising of government officials, business people, civil society representatives and journalists from across the world typically gather at the Spring Meetings of both the entities that is scheduled to be held from April 17 to -19. One of the major modes of fast spread of the virus is public gatherings or group gatherings and many of the countries hit by the virus outbreak have restricted such gatherings. This was one of the major concerns for the  Spring Meetings of the IMF and the World Bank as the attendees generally hold meetings in a tightly packed, two-block area of downtown Washington where the headquarters of both the institutions are located.
The first reports of the institutions contemplating holding virtual versions of the meetings emerged last week coinciding with the fast spread of the coronavirus all across the world which first emerged in Hubei province of China in late December.
Till data more than 91,000 people have been infected by the virus globally with China accounting for more than 80,000 of the positive cases. The total number of deaths due to the virus so far globally is more than 3000. The virus has spread to 77 countries and territories apart from China with Argentina being the latest country to report its first case.
The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development warned that the worst downturn for the global economy since the global economic meltdown in 2007-08 is could be cause because of the outbreak of the coronavirus.
The goal for the IMF and the World Bank was to ensure the health and safety of participants and staff while also trying to serve their membership effectively, said IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva and World Bank President David Malpass in a joint statement.
Essential policy consultations will be held by the two institutions by leveraging IT-related and virtual connection capabilities, they said, while also providing their analysis.
"With this adapted format, we are confident that our member countries will be able to effectively engage on pressing global economic issues at these Spring Meetings," the two institutions said.
However the International Monetary and Financial Committee - the steering committee of the IMF which comprises of 24 members could be the only one meeting to hold face to face consultations, said an IMF official.
Reports said that the details for the virtual as well as the single face to face meeting are still being worked out by the institutions. A World Bank spokesman said that the Development Committee - the equivalent of a steering committee for the Bank, will possibly also meet  in a virtual format.
There has been concerns within the IMF and the World Bank about the rapid spread of the virus while also appealing for avoiding of close interactions among people who were scheduled to attend from the 189 member countries of the two institutions,