The international monetary fund warned Wednesday that the economic burdens caused by the global corona virus pandemic could trigger an outbreak of protest and urged governments to take measures to prevent unrest.
The IMF warned that "some countries remain vulnerable to new protests, especially when policies to curb the COVID 19 crisis are seen as inadequate or unjustified for large corporations towards people".
Already in South Africa, the police fired rubber bullets and tear gas during clashes with Cape Town residents on Tuesday to protest access to food aid during a coronavirus lock.
Hundreds of angry people fought with the police, throwing stones and building barricades on the streets with burning tires to protest against undelivered food packages.
In the semi-annual Fiscal Monitor report, the IMF said protests were "more likely in countries with widespread corruption, lack of transparency in public order, and poor service delivery".
Even well-intentioned government spending measures to alleviate the damage caused by the virus containment barriers "cannot alleviate such tensions because the demonstrators are not necessarily the poorest" or when the programs "are viewed as outsiders".
The report points to increasing waves of protests against economic policy in the past two years: protests against fuel prices have risen in Ecuador, Haiti and Iran; in France pension reforms and planned fuel tax increases. While in Chile, "a slight increase in public transportation tariffs sparked social protests on much broader issues."
The authors urged governments to take measures to reduce the likelihood of unrest, including clear communication with advance notice and the reasons for any policy; a strategy to overcome the opposition; and steps to reduce the burden ahead of measures such as fuel price increases.
"New rounds of protest could exhaust reform momentum (for example, with regard to pension or energy subsidies) and endanger public finances," said the IMF.
Governments have quickly pumped money into their economies: lifelines provided worldwide include higher spending and lost revenue ($ 3.3 trillion), public sector loans and capital injections ($ 1.8 trillion), and guarantees (2nd $ 7 trillion), the report said.
The group of 20 advanced and emerging economies is at the forefront with measures totaling $ 7 trillion.
IMF officials have stressed the need for a massive response to deal with the health crisis and the economic impact. However, the fiscal monitor reminds the authorities of the need to end measures after the crisis has ended.
"We do not know enough to predict the timing and circumstances of the eventual recovery, but in emergencies, this means that policymakers do everything they need but make sure the evidence is kept," the authors said.
(Except for the headline, this story was not edited by NDTV staff and published from a syndicated feed.)