WASHINGTON, USA – The spring gathering of finance ministers and central bankers held in Washington in April will be shifted to a "virtual format" due to the coronavirus epidemic, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank said Tuesday, March 3.
The twice-yearly meetings of the development lending institutions attract thousands of officials, journalists, and private sector participants from 180 member countries – just the kind of gathering health authorities say should be avoided. (READ: IMF, World Bank funds ready to fight virus outbreak)
IMF chief Kristalina Georgieva and World Bank President David Malpass said in a joint statement that "given growing health concerns related to the virus," they will switch "to a virtual format" for the meetings set for April 16 to 18.
"We remain fully committed to maintaining a productive dialogue with our stakeholders and will leverage our IT-related and virtual connection capabilities to the fullest to hold our essential policy consultations with the membership," the statement said.
The IMF and World Bank hold their spring meetings yearly in April and their annual meetings in October, where finance ministers and central bank governors discuss global economic and financial developments.
But the meetings include a host of side gatherings, panels, conferences, and related events all around in Washington – except every third year, when the October meeting is moved to a member country. The official participant count is about 10,000.