The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has announced the approval of debt service relief to 25 countries.
Kristalina Georgieva, IMF Managing Director, in a statement put the figure at $500million.
She said the Executive Board gave the approval under the IMF’s revamped Catastrophe Containment and Relief Trust (CCRT) as part of the Fund’s response to help address the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“This provides grants to our poorest and most vulnerable members to cover their IMF debt obligations for an initial phase over the next six months and will help them channel more of their scarce financial resources towards vital emergency medical and other relief efforts.
“The CCRT can currently provide about US$500 million in grant-based debt service relief, including the recent US$185 million pledge by the U.K. and US$100 million provided by Japan as immediately available resources.
“Others, including China and the Netherlands, are also stepping forward with important contributions. I urge other donors to help us replenish the Trust’s resources and boost further our ability to provide additional debt service relief for a full two years to our poorest member countries”, Georgieva noted.
The beneficiary-countries are Afghanistan, Benin, Burkina Faso, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, Congo, D.R., The Gambia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Haiti, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mozambique, Nepal, Niger, Rwanda, São Tomé and Príncipe, Sierra Leone, Solomon Islands, Tajikistan, Togo, and Yemen.
Nigeria has a maximum crude oil production capacity of 2.5 million barrels per day and is Africa’s largest producer of oil.
The most populous nation on the continent is also the sixth largest oil producer in the world.
Despite this, the country continues to beg international organisations for money.
For decades, Nigerians blame the prevalence of poverty on corruption, unaccountably, lack of transparency, size of government and officials’ extravagance.
Just last week, the federal government announced that it had applied for a $3.5billion request from the IMF and the African Development Bank (AfDB) to fund the 2020 Budget.
Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, revealed that a $2.5billion request to the IMF was on behalf of the states and federal government, while $1billion is being expected from AfDB.
She disclosed that the IMF COVID-19 Rapid Credit Facility would be drawn from Nigeria’s existing holdings with the World Bank Group and IMF.
The minister added that Nigeria did not intend to negotiate or enter into a formal programme with the IMF at this time or the nearest future.
Ahmed also disclosed that the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) had access to a Regional Disease Surveillance Systems (REDISSE) facility from the World Bank in the sum of $90million.
$8million has been drawn for the coronavirus fight, while the country requested to fully draw down on the outstanding balance of $82million.