As a measure to shore up its weakening fiscal base and mitigate shocks from the coronavirus pandemic, the Nigerian Government said Monday afternoon it had approached the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to access fund worth $3.4 billion.
Zainab Ahmed, Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, made the declaration in Abuja during a media briefing, saying government had equally approved a N500 billion COVID-19 Crisis Intervention Fund.
Mrs Ahmed confirmed that the IMF facility would be obtained by drawing right, a privilege granted to IMF member nations to augment their contributed reserve assets to the organisation in proportion to their quotas.
“We have also applied for funding from the International Monetary Fund’s COVID-19 Rapid Credit Facility to draw from our existing holdings with the World Bank Group / International Monetary Fund.
“This loan will not be tied to any conditionalities. Let me just state here and clarify explain that Nigeria does not intend to negotiate or enter into a formal programme with IMF at this time or in the foreseeable future,” Ahmed said.
She went further to say “the COVID-19 Rapid Credit Facility is a right for every member country to draw up to limit of the amount that it has contributed and Nigeria has expressed its interest in that regard.
“We have about $3.4 billion with the IMF and we intend to withdraw the entire amount. The IMF has a provision that we can withdraw between 50 – 100 per cent. We are aware that 80 other countries have asked for similar facilities.”
She remarked that the N500 billion stimulus would allow funds to be pooled from different special funds and accounts subject to the approval of the parliament.
“The N500 billion is proposed to be utilized to Upgrade healthcare facilities as earlier identified by the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 and approved by Mr President; finance the Federal Government’s Interventions to support States in improving healthcare facilities; finance the creation of a Special Public Works Programme, and fund any additional interventions that may be approved by Mr President,” the minister revealed.