The International Monetary Fund and World Bank will decide on Monday whether to proceed with October's annual meetings in earthquake-hit Morocco after completing a “thorough review” of the country's ability to host them, the IMF's managing director has said.
The IMF has reached a staff-level agreement with Morocco to provide a $1.3 billion loan to bolster the country's resilience to climate-related disasters from the fund's new Resilience and Sustainability Trust, Kristalina Georgieva also said, in an exclusive interview with Reuters.
Questions have swirled over whether the IMF and World Bank would still hold their annual meetings in Morocco's tourist hub of Marrakesh on October 9-15 since the devastating, 6.8-magnitude earthquake struck in the High Atlas Mountains, killing more than 2,900 people.
Marrakesh, 72km from the quake's epicentre, suffered some damage in its ancient Madinah quarter, but Moroccan officials have pressed the IMF and World Bank to proceed with the gathering, which would bring some 10,000-15,000 people to the city.
“The Moroccan authorities are fully committed to the meetings,” Ms Georgieva said in her first public comments on the matter since the disaster.
Describing talks with Moroccan Prime Minister Aziz Akhannouch, Ms Georgieva said she had expressed concern that the IMF and World Bank “don't want to be a burden” to the country during recovery efforts.
The prime minister had told her it would be “quite devastating” for Morocco's hospitality sector if the meetings did not take place in Marrakesh.
Ms Georgieva agreed to look for ways to simplify the meetings, including possibly reducing their length and scaling back attendance.
“Stay tuned. By Monday, we will have made a decision, taking into account all factors – obviously physical capacity, how the logistics are going to work,” Ms Georgieva said, adding that security was not a major concern.
She said the $1.3 billion Resilience and Sustainability Trust loan for Morocco needed approval from the IMF's executive board, but board consideration was likely to take place in about two weeks, before the annual meetings start.
While the loan would not be directly related to the earthquake, she said it would be aimed at building resilience to climate shocks, including drought, and help build the country's overall financial capacity.
Morocco also has access to a $5 billion flexible credit line from the IMF, approved in April, aimed at strengthening the country's crisis prevention capabilities.