IMF disburses $200 million to Georgia to fight coronavirus

FILE PHOTO - An employee wearing protective gear sprays disinfectant to sanitize a tube train over coronavirus fears in Tbilisi, Georgia March 2, 2020. REUTERS/Irakli Gedenidze

TBILISI (Reuters) - The International Monetary Fund (IMF) said on Saturday it would disburse a $200 million loan tranche to Georgia to help the ex-Soviet country meet urgent balance of payments and fiscal needs stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Fund said its executive board had approved increased extra financing for Georgia to about $448 million.

“The pandemic is expected to have a significant impact on Georgia’s economy, interrupting the positive economic trajectory of past years,” the IMF said in a statement.

“The IMF financial support will make a substantial contribution toward fulfilling the needed increases in health spending and social safety nets.”

The IMF said last month it expected Georgia’s gross domestic product (GDP) to decline by 4% in 2020. But it sees a recovery in growth at 4% in 2021, supported by an end to containment measures and pickup in trading partners’ growth, Selim Cakir, the fund’s resident representative in Georgia, told Reuters.

The South Caucasus country of 3.7 million had reported 582 coronavirus cases as of Saturday and eight deaths.

Reporting by Margarita Antidze; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne