Private creditors lay out debt relief blueprint for poor countries

LONDON, May 28 (Reuters) - Private sector creditors on Thursday laid out a “toolkit” they said would pave the way for poor countries side-swiped by the new coronavirus to get debt relief this year.

The group has been working with the Washington-based Institute of International Finance (IIF) after the G20 economies called on the private sector to match their own initiative to suspend debt payments from some 77 low income countries.

The IIF proposal said relief could be provided on a case-by-case and voluntary basis if countries requested it, rather than by a one-size-fits-all process like the G20 proposal known as the Debt Service Suspension Initiative (DSSI).

“The IIF has been adamant that creditors of every type and size have a role to play in making sure the world’s most vulnerable countries have the liquidity needed to combat the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Tim Adams, IIF President and CEO.

Adam said the “Terms of Reference” toolkit represented efforts by the private sector “to do the right thing” in helping poor countries, though he acknowledged that some challenges remain in terms of implementing the DSSI.

The IIF, a trade association comprising over 450 banks, hedge funds and other global financial firms, had engaged more than 100 private creditors over the last couple of months, representing more than $45 trillion in assets under management.

The process also included coordination with the International Monetary Fund, World Bank, Paris Club, United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, and more than a dozen finance and development ministers representing DSSI-eligible countries.

United Nations officials are due to meet a dozen world leaders on Thursday to consider expanding the G20-led plans.

They say it is imperative to enable developing economies to pump up spending to stop the spread of the coronavirus, mitigate the economic impact and limit what economists worry is an inevitable debt crisis.

“We have had a very constructive dialogue with the public sector about these and feel confident that this process has resulted in a framework that will facilitate maximum cash flow relief, given numerous legal and practical constraints,” Adams said. (Reporting by Marc Jones in London and Andrea Shalal in Washington, Editing by William Maclean)