Statement by IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde on the Catastrophe Containment and Relief Trust

February 5, 2015

by Christine Lagarde
Managing Director, International Monetary Fund
Washington D.C.—February 5, 2015
As prepared for delivery
Webcast of the press briefing Webcast

Welcome journalists participating in the briefing, including those watching online.

I would like to tell you about a decision of the Executive Board yesterday that significantly enhances our support to the countries in Africa hit by Ebola, as well as other low income countries that may be affected by public health disasters in the future.

The Board approved a new instrument, called the Catastrophe Containment and Relief Trust, providing grant aid that will be used for relief on debt service payments for two years. It expands upon the Post Catastrophe Debt Relief (PCDR) Trust that originally was set up to assist countries hit by natural disasters like earthquakes.

This follows my proposal to the G-20 leaders in Brisbane of a three-leg approach that the IMF would take to support the countries in West Africa stricken by the Ebola epidemic. The purpose of this effort is to support low income countries facing a public health crisis in order to help prevent potentially devastating international spillovers. The three legs of our plan are as follows:

First, we will provide expanded concessional lending in addition to the $130 million of emergency assistance we extended in September 2014. This second round of lending will total about $160 million, subject to Board consideration later this month. The unique feature of this IMF money is its immediate disbursement.

Second, we bring in exceptional grant support in the new Trust that will be used as debt relief—for about $100 million. With this initiative, the IMF becomes the first multilateral institution to provide relief to these three countries.

Third, I’m calling on official bilateral creditors—both Paris Club members and non-Paris Club members—to provide additional flow debt relief to the three Ebola affected countries. In that regard, we already have the resources to fund the IMF debt relief for the three countries through the former PCDR Trust. In addition, we are focusing on ensuring that resources are available in the future.

To this end, I am reaching out to all countries that provided funding to the MDRI-II, which financed the HIPC effort. I am urging them to approve the re-purposing of those funds for the new CCR Trust.

In addition, I will be reaching out vigorously, including during the upcoming G-20 meeting in Istanbul, to get commitments of bilateral support for the CCR to meet future needs.

I am pleased to report that I have informally received indications of a bilateral commitment to the CCR from one donor country. I hope that commitment will be an important catalyst helping us to reach our funding goals.

Our membership has demonstrated great commitment in coming together to respond to the Ebola crisis. I am particularly gratified at the support for approving this new trust, which will make a difference to the people of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone—and other countries in the future.

This initiative is a clear indication of the flexibility, innovation and commitment of the IMF to the health systems and human needs of some of our most vulnerable member countries.

Thank you, and I will be happy to take a few questions.


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