More than 100 global organisations are calling for debt payments of developing countries to be dropped this year.
These countries include the world’s poorest economies which are struggling with the impacts of coronavirus.
Major charities including Oxfam and ActionAid International are asking for the debt relief which would free up more than $25bn (£20bn) this year.
They have written to world leaders along with major central banks calling for a range of debt relief measures.
The call is being spearheaded by UK-based charity Jubilee Debt Campaign and comes a day before the G20 group of the world’s largest and fastest-growing economies meets.
“Developing countries are being hit by an unprecedented economic shock, and at the same time face an urgent health emergency. The suspension on debt payments called for by the IMF and World Bank saves money now, but kicks the can down the road and avoids actually dealing with the problem of spiralling debts,” said Sarah-Jayne Clifton, director of the Jubilee Debt Campaign.
The campaigners want debt payments to be cancelled with immediate effect, including payments to private creditors. “This is the fastest way to keep money in countries to use in responding to Covid-19, and to ensure public money is not wasted bailing out the profits of rich private speculators,” added Ms Clifton.
Calculations show that 69 of the world’s poorest countries are due to pay $19.5bn to other governments and multilateral institutions, and $6bn to external private lenders this year.
The IMF has made $50bn available in emergency financing while the World Bank has approved a $14bn response package to the most vulnerable economies.
Campaigners want the emergency cancellation to be followed by a process to reduce debts to a sustainable level following the virus crisis.