May 2, 2020 / 1:58 AM / 25 days ago

IMF approves $643 million in pandemic aid for Ecuador: ministry

QUITO (Reuters) - The International Monetary Fund has approved a request from Ecuador for emergency financing to fight the coronavirus pandemic, granting a $643 million loan, the Andean country’s economy ministry said on Friday.

Ecuador has been among the hardest-hit countries in Latin America by the coronavirus, with 24,675 confirmed cases and 883 deaths, plus a further 1,357 deaths that were likely caused by the virus.

“This financing will allow us to have the necessary liquidity to support the reactivation of the economy, and protect jobs,” the ministry said in a statement.

The outbreak there is boosting pressure on President Lenin Moreno to default on $17 billion in debt and devote more resources toward fighting a pandemic that has left bodies in the streets of the country’s largest city, Guayaquil.

Moreno is scrambling to cover expenses with $3 billion from multilateral agencies and China, but is still securing firm commitments from those creditors.

The 5-year IMF loan has an interest rate of 1.05%, the ministry said.

Reporting by Alexandra Valencia; Writing by Angus Berwick; Editing by Sandra Maler

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