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G20 finance chiefs to discuss debt, crypto, inflation

A woman walks past a hoarding of India's G20 presidency in Mumbai

By Sarita Chaganti Singh and Shivangi Acharya

BENGALURU, India (Reuters) -G20 finance ministers and central bank governors will discuss debt troubles in developing economies, crypto currencies and global inflationary pressures at a meeting later this week, Indian officials said on Tuesday.

The Feb. 22-25 meeting in the Nandi Hills summer retreat near Bengaluru is the first major event of India's G20 presidency. The meeting straddles the Feb. 24 anniversary of Russia's invasion of Ukraine and the war is likely to be high on the agenda.

Unblocking debt restructuring for distressed economies and boosting aid for Ukraine is expected to take prominence at the meeting, where U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen is also expected to press China to "quickly deliver" on debt relief for low and middle income countries.

India's presidency of the bloc comes at a time when neighbouring South Asian countries Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Pakistan have sought a bailout from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) over the past year due to an economic slowdown caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and the Ukraine war.

Reuters reported last week that India is drafting a proposal for G20 countries to help debtor nations by asking lenders, including China, the world's largest sovereign creditor, to take a large haircut on loans.

"While thinking about debt concerns faced by countries, it is also important to think about what we can do to forestall them," India's Chief Economic Adviser V Anantha Nageswaran told reporters at a news conference ahead of the G20 meeting.

"So the discussions would be aimed both at handling them before they arise and after they arise as well."

Other items on the agenda include rules on crypto-currencies, reform of multilateral development banks, international taxation and securing adequate finance to combat climate change, the officials said.

During the event, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) plans to hold a virtual meeting with the World Bank, India, China, Saudi Arabia, the United States and other Group of Seven (G7) nations to try to reach understandings on common standards, principles and definitions on how to restructure distressed country debts.

India also supports a push by the IMF, the World Bank and the United States for the so-called Common Framework (CF) - a G20 initiative launched in 2020 to help poor countries delay debt repayments - to be expanded to include middle-income countries.

(Reporting by Sarita Chaganti Singh, Shivangi Acharya and Aftab Ahmed; Writing by Shivam Patel in New Delhi; Editing by Christopher Cushing and Raju Gopalakrishnan)