Oxfam has urged the International Monetary Fund to drop its demands for austerity as the cost of living crisis is exacerbating hunger and poverty in the world, the NGO said in a statement on Tuesday.

The organization said that 87% of the IMF's COVID-19-related loans require developing countries - denied equal access to vaccines and facing some of the world's worst humanitarian crises - to adopt tough new austerity measures that will only exacerbate poverty and inequality.

A new report by Oxfam shows that 13 out of 15 loan programs negotiated by the International Monetary Fund in the second year of the pandemic impose new austerity measures, such as taxes on food and fuel or spending cuts, that could threaten essential public services.

But Oxfam indicated that the International Monetary Fund in 2020 allocated billions of emergency loans to help developing countries cope with Covid-19, often with few or no conditions.

IMF double standards

The organization added that the Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund Kristalina Georgieva recently urged Europe not to jeopardize its economic recovery through the "stifling force of austerity", while the International Monetary Fund returned last year to impose austerity measures on low-income countries.

"This perfectly illustrates the IMF's double standards policy: it warns the rich countries against austerity, while forcing the poorer ones to do so," says Nabil Abdo, Oxfam's policy advisor in the Middle East and North Africa.

Abdo considered that poor countries need help to improve access to basic services and social protection, and not to the harsh conditions that people face when they are at rock bottom, noting that the epidemic is not over yet and that poor countries are the most affected by high energy and food prices.

Abdo added that the IMF should suspend austerity conditions on existing loans and increase access to emergency financing, and encourage countries to raise taxes on the wealthy and corporations, to replenish a depleted treasury and reduce rising inequality.

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