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IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva is seen at a press conference ahead of World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland, on Jan. 20, 2020.

Denis Balibouse/Reuters

Governments around the world have spent US$10-trillion in fiscal actions to respond to the novel coronavirus pandemic and its economic fallout, but significant further efforts are needed, the head of the International Monetary Fund said on Thursday.

New estimates suggested that up to 100 million people could fall into extreme poverty as a result of the crisis, IMF managing director Kristalina Georgieva said, noting this would erase the past three years of gains made in poverty reduction.

The disease has infected nearly 7.4 million people around the world and 415,545 have died. The World Bank this week forecast the coronavirus would shrink global output by 5.2 per cent in 2020, the deepest contraction since the Second World War.

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The IMF is due to update its forecasts on June 24. Ms. Georgieva has said that further cuts are “very likely” to the IMF’s April forecast for a 3-per-cent contraction in global output.

To promote a more inclusive recovery, “substantial fiscal stimulus” should focus on minimizing job losses and preventing a rise in inequality, she wrote in a blog on the IMF’s website.

Investments should focus on improving access to health care and education, strengthening climate protections and broadening the access of low-income households and small business to financial products and technology, she wrote.

“The COVID-19 crisis is inflicting the most pain on those who are already most vulnerable. This calamity could lead to a significant rise in income inequality,” she said.

Policy makers should act quickly and deliberately to promote a more inclusive recovery, she said, adding that new research by the IMF and World Bank showed that more equitable access was associated with stronger and more sustainable growth.

Moving cash payments by governments into bank accounts using fintech and mobile phones could reduce the number of “unbanked” adults by 100 million globally from around 1.1 billion. And financially inclusive countries had a two-percentage to three-percentage point edge in gross domestic product growth, she said.

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