The Executive Board of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) said that it has agreed on to temporarily raise the poverty reduction growth fund PRGT, normal annual access limit to 200 per cent of quota and the normal cumulative access limit to 600 per cent of quota until end-2024. In a statement issued in Washington DC it said “these changes are intended to better support the Fund’s low-income members in a particularly challenging and uncertain global economic environment. The Poverty Reduction and Growth Trust (PRGT) is the Fund’s concessional lending arm (currently at zero percent interest rates). In March 2023, the IMF Executive Board decided that an interim review of the PRGT access limits should be carried out once substantial progress with the PRGT first stage fundraising target for subsidy resources of SDR 2.3 billion was met. This target was met in October 2023 thanks to the generosity of over 40 countries, paving the way for the interim review.
“IMF’s concessional lending under the PRGT is subject to normal annual and cumulative access limits. The PRGT access limits were last reviewed in July 2021, setting the normal annual and cumulative access limits at 145 and 435 percent of quota respectively, aligned with then prevailing General Resources Account (GRA) access limits. Since then, the GRA access limits have been temporarily raised to 200 / 600 in March 2023. The temporary increase in PRGT access limits will allow more flexibility in Fund’s support to countries with large balance of payments needs and facilitate their implementation of strong economic programs that help maintain or restore sustainable economic positions and inclusive growth. The forthcoming Review of the Fund’s Concessional Facilities and Financing, expected to be completed in the Fall of 2024, will cover both the review of facilities, including access limits, and PRGT financing, including to ensure the long-term financial sustainability of the trust.
“Executive Directors welcomed reaching the milestone of SDR 2.3 billion first‑stage target for PRGT subsidy resources agreed in 2021. The Board approved the proposal to raise, on a temporary basis until end‑2024, the annual and cumulative access limits under the Poverty Reduction and Growth Trust (PRGT), as well as the per arrangement cap on the PRGT resources under the blending policy until end‑2024. Directors noted that low‑income countries (LICs) are facing persistent headwinds and an uncertain global economic environment, while having diminished policy buffers and facing tight financing conditions. In this context, LICs are likely to have an increased need to access the Fund’s concessional financial support as they undertake the necessary macroeconomic adjustments. Against this background, most Directors supported a temporary increase in the annual access limit under the PRGT from 145 percent of quota to 200 percent of quota and a temporary increase in the cumulative access limit from 435 percent of quota to 600 percent of quota until end‑2024. Some Directors considered that the alignment of PRGT and GRA access limits is important for evenhanded treatment of members.
“A few other Directors stressed that the PRGT and GRA are separate and access limits do not need to align. A few Directors pointed out that many of the LICs with a high need for PRGT resources can already access the PRGT above normal access limits subject to safeguards. A number of Directors stressed the importance of maintaining the catalytic role of Fund financing. Most Directors also agreed that PRGT access norms, which provide general guidance on access to PRGT facilities, will be raised from 145 percent of quota to 200 percent of quota (for any three‑year Extended Credit Facility arrangement, prorated for longer duration arrangements; for any 18‑month Stand‑by Credit Facility arrangement, prorated for different arrangement duration)—although a few Directors felt that this particular proposal had not been sufficiently justified. Most Directors also concurred that the per arrangement cap on the PRGT resources under the blending policy will also be raised from 145 percent of quota to 200 percent of quota until end‑2024. In this context, Directors noted that access limits and norms are neither ceilings nor determinants of program access. Rather, access for individual cases should be carefully evaluated on their merits according to standard criteria, including the strength of policies under the program, the level of access sought, and debt sustainability.
“Directors acknowledged that the temporary modifications of the PRGT access limits, norms, and the PRGT access cap for blended arrangements are likely to increase the volume of PRGT financing, and many Directors stressed that PRGT funding remains a concern that needs to be addressed comprehensively to reach a self‑sustained PRGT. Against this background, Directors highlighted the critical importance of the comprehensive Review of the Fund’s Concessional Facilities and Financing planned for 2024. In this context, Directors provided various suggestions to guide staff’s review and ensure a thorough analysis and a comprehensive evaluation of options. Most Directors noted that the increase in access limits raises the thresholds for triggering the application of higher scrutiny under the PRGT exceptional access policy and welcomed staff proposals to keep unchanged the triggers for enhanced safeguards and for high access procedures to mitigate risks. They concurred with the proposed transitional rules in case access limits were to revert to lower levels after 2024. Directors agreed that strong safeguards will help in mitigating risks arising from the temporary access limits increase in a context of pressure on PRGT resources and elevated debt vulnerabilities among LICs.
“Directors discussed staff’s preliminary considerations on extending the temporarily higher GRA access limits through end‑2024 to allow sufficient time for staff to develop a comprehensive review of access limits that could become effective together with any quota increase that may be approved by the Board of Governors under the Sixteenth General Review of Quotas. Most Directors looked forward to staff’s proposal early next year underpinned by a thorough analysis. Some Directors stressed that an extension of the temporarily higher GRA access limits should be assessed on its own merits”.