IMF considers Nigeria’s request to borrow $3.4bn

  • World Bank provides $82m medical support
  • PDP demands accountability

Nigeria’s application for a $3.4 billion credit from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) is reportedly undergoing review.

“We are working hard to respond to this request so that a proposal can be considered by the IMF’s executive board as soon as possible,” the IMF chief, Kristalina Georgieva, said in a statement on Tuesday.

The Federal government had said two days ago that it joined 80 other countries to request a COVID-19 Rapid Credit Facility from the 189-member organisation, one of a series of loan arrangements it is making to tackle the current socio-economic and health crisis.

The IMF boss observed that Nigeria’s present economic emergency resulting from its exposure to the COVID-19 pandemic and shocks from slump in the price of oil – Nigeria’s biggest foreign exchange earner – informed government’s choice to seek the Fund’s Rapid Financing Instrument.

“President Buhari’s administration is taking a number of measures aimed at containing the spread of the virus and its impact, including by swiftly releasing contingency funds to Nigeria’s Center for Disease Control and working on an economic stimulus package that will help provide relief for households and businesses impacted by the downturn,” Ms Georgieva said.

Meanwhile, the World Bank has given Nigeria medical support in the sum of $82 million, its own bit of global institutions’ assistance to nations in need of funds to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.

“In Nigeria, the World Bank has already made $82million available for immediate support in strengthening the public health response through the Regional Disease Surveillance Systems Enhancement Project,” a statement from the institution disclosed.

Six days ago, it launched the first phase of its emergency health support with disbursement of $1.9 billion to 25 developing countries, including Nigeria.

The Washington-based lender has a monumental ambition of deploying $160 billion for medical aid related purposes over the next 15 months to its client countries.

It said: “The World Bank Group is moving quickly to provide fast and flexible support to Nigeria and other African countries in mitigating the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic by providing direct and long-term financial support over the next 15 months.”

According to the multilateral organisation, it has a request to provide multidimensional support to Nigeria for the next half year to boost the country’s capacity for curbing the current health emergency.

The campaign targeting the protection of livelihoods and stimulating the local economy for 18 to 24 months, the World Bank observed, would be crucial to curtailing the human and economic impact of the coronavirus outbreak.

In a bid to protect the livelihoods of Nigeria’s poor population and vulnerable homes as well as boost micro, small and medium businesses, the World Bank and its partners are engaging state governments and the federal authorities.

Already, the organisation’s Regional Disease Surveillance Systems Enhancement project has given a $10.6 million aid to the Nigeria Centre for Disease and Control towards the seamless running of the emergency operation centres of Nigerian states.

Beyond aiding eight states in the construction, rehabilitation and the equipping of treatment centres, the World Bank initiative is equally providing medical supplies in the form of test kits, personal protective equipment for frontline health workers as well as drugs.

But the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has alleged that President Mohammadu Buhari’s government is using the outbreak of COVID-19 in the country to make more money for itself.

The party, reacting to plans by the Federal government to source as much as $6.9 billion from international lenders to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, said it is a ploy by the government to deceive Nigerians.

Deputy National Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Diran Odeyemi, in a statement on Tuesday, tasked the government to come clean on what has happened to the billions of naira already donated by Nigerians as palliatives to vulnerable citizens in need.

He said: “It is clear that this government is now using the Coronavirus  pandemic as an avenue to make more money for itself. Why do we have to seek foreign loans when COVID-19 is a global phenomenon? Have they justified how the billions of naira raised so far have been spent?

“Across the country, people are crying of the hunger and hardship occasioned by the lockdown. Food items are not provided and the money they claimed to be sharing to the poorest of the poor is enmeshed with controversy.

“With the way things are going, it may be difficult for this government to implement any development project again. It appears they are going to tell us that they spend the remaining three years fighting the virus,” Odeyemi said.

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