IMF poised to approve over $500 million in pandemic aid for Ecuador

FILE PHOTO: The logo of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) is seen during a news conference in Santiago, Chile, July 23, 2019. REUTERS/Rodrigo Garrido

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The International Monetary Fund’s executive board is scheduled on Friday to consider Ecuador’s request for emergency financing to fight the coronavirus pandemic, the IMF’s website said, a sign that approval of some $500 million in aid is imminent.

Setting a firm date for board consideration usually indicates that the proposal is slated for approval, according to sources familiar with the process.

Ecuadorean Finance Minister Richard Martinez last month said the cash-strapped Andean nation had reached a deal with the IMF for $500 million in financing. IMF officials this month said they were working to process the request as soon as possible.

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.

Austerity measures imposed on April 16 by President Lenin Moreno have sparked fears of further social instability following a wave of street protests sparked last October after Moreno decided to end a fuel subsidy.

The coronavirus outbreak in Ecuador is boosting pressure on 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 nation’s largest city.

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

Reporting by Andrea Shalal; Editing by Sandra Maler and Alistair Bell