IMF to test working from home in case coronavirus strikes
WASHINGTON, USA – All International Monetary Fund (IMF) employees will work from home on Friday, March 13, the fund said Monday, March 9, to test systems in case the spreading coronavirus epidemic makes working remotely a necessity.
The World Bank, too, has been testing remote work procedures on a smaller scale, a spokesman told Agence France-Presse.
Last week, the IMF and World Bank announced that their Spring meetings in April would become a virtual event amid the spread of COVID-19 which has sickened 110,564 people in 100 countries and killed 3,862.
As more governments and companies are encouraging work from home to contain the virus, the IMF said in a statement it would for the first time conduct a "fund-wide remote work exercise," as part of its "crisis preparedness efforts and in preparation for the virtual spring meetings in April."
"This exercise will allow us to further strengthen the fund's readiness to continue its operations and serve its membership during these trying times," a spokesperson said.
The World Bank is meanwhile testing remote work "department by department," and already has a "number of systems in place" to ensure staff can work remotely, a spokesman said, speaking from his home kitchen.
The development lending institutions hold meetings twice per-year, attracting thousands of officials, journalists, and private sector participants from 180 member countries – just the kind of gathering health authorities say should be avoided amid the outbreak.
The outbreak has caused the cancelation or postponement of a number of events, including the Association of Southeast Asian Nations summit United States President Donald Trump was scheduled to host later this month.
Finance ministers and central bank governors from 189 IMF and World Bank member countries attend the Spring and annual meetings, in April and October, which also include a host of side gatherings, panels, conferences, and related events all around in Washington. The official participant count is about 10,000.
The World Bank spokesman said those side events will be skipped this year. Only the institutions' two steering committees will meet, the International Monetary and Financial Committee and the Development Committee, which involve only about two dozen officials.
The flagship event ahead of the meetings is the release of the IMF's World Economic Outlook, which will be in the spotlight given the warnings that global growth will slow notably due to the broadening epidemic. – Rappler.com