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© Reuters. Weekly German cabinet meeting in Berlin

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BERLIN (Reuters) – Commercial banks, investment funds and China should join a debt moratorium for the world’s poorest countries, German Development Minister Gerd Mueller told Reuters on the occasion of the annual autumn meeting of the World Bank.

Financial leaders from the Group of 20 major economies on Wednesday extended their Debt Service Suspension Initiative (DSSI) to help the world’s poorest countries cope with the fallout of the COVID-19 crisis until the middle of next year.

“The now planned extension of the moratorium by the G20 until the middle of next year is important, but far from sufficient,” Mueller said, adding the coronavirus crisis was hitting poor countries hardest and would not be over in a year.

“That is why investment funds and private banks must also join in instead of simply continuing to make high returns and repayments. Chinese lenders must also participate,” he added.

IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva last week said African states alone faced a financing gap of $345 billion through 2023 to deal with the pandemic and its economic impact.

Developing countries have pushed hard for extension of the debt freeze, but say further measures are needed to help middle-income countries not currently eligible for the G20 initiative.

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