Page last updated at 17:28 GMT, Wednesday, 29 July 2009 18:28 UK

IMF boosts lending to poor states

A family in Africa
The IMF wants the money to relieve poverty in Africa and around the world

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has said it will take "unprecedented" measures to help poor countries cope with the economic downturn.

The IMF said it will boost lending by up to $17bn (£10.4bn) between now and 2014 and suspend interest on some loans to low income countries until 2011.

It plans to sell some of its gold reserves to raise funds for the loans.

The measures are partly in response to calls from the G20 countries at their April summit for greater lending.

"This is an unprecedented scaling up of IMF support for the poorest countries, in sub-Saharan Africa and all over the world," said IMF head Dominique Strauss-Kahn.

The measures "should prevent millions of people from falling into poverty," he added.

The fund said the global crisis was jeopardising the "remarkable economic progress" made by many poorer countries.

The new loans would not only help them weather the downturn, but also help them in the longer term battle against poverty, it said.

It added that $8bn would be made available over the next two years, more than the $6bn called for by the G20.

Earlier this month, the IMF agreed $2.5bn loan with Sri Lanka and a $600m loan with Ghana.

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