Covid-19 fallout: IMF weighs plan to re-allot SDR to low-income nations


After India, the US and other countries opposed an International Monetary Fund (IMF) proposal to issue fresh special drawing rights (SDR) currencies to help countries deal with the economic fallout of the coronavirus pandemic, the multilateral lender is thinking of redistributing existing unused SDRs of rich member-countries to low-income countries in desperate need.

IMF chief economist Gita Gopinath said the SDR allocation issue is being discussed and that there is no consensus on it at this point. “Let’s be clear what the SDR can do. When you do a general SDR or increase SDR allocations, most of it goes to the countries that don’t need it. Because it is proportional to your quota, it goes to the very large economies. It does not go to the low income countries in very large numbers,” she said at a webinar organised by the Princeton Bendheim Center for Finance.

Gopinath said the IMF is discussing an alternative mechanism with its members under which wealthy countries that don’t need their SDRs can lend them to low-income countries. “There is certainly a lot of appetite for this second strategy ,” she added. SDR is an international reserve asset comprising the dollar, euro, yen, sterling and yuan, and allocated to IMF members according to their quota. India has 13,114 million SDRs on account of its 2.76% quota while the US has 82,994 million SDRs due to its 17.45% quota. China with 6.41% quota has 30,483 million SDRs at the IMF. On June 8, one SDR was valued at $1.38.A rush to safety by investors has triggered an outflow of capital from many least developed and developing economies, many of whom have seen their fiscal space reduced by the virtual standstill of economic activity, preventing them from being able to import essential medical supplies.