BARELY 24 hours after receiving $311 million Abacha loot from the United States and the Island of Jersey, the Federal Government has been handed the $3.4 billion emergency fund it requested from the International Monetary Fund(IMF).
The emergency fund which was approved by the IMF Board on April 28, comes under the Rapid Financing Instrument (RFI). It is meant to assist Nigeria’s fight against COVID-19 and to resolve urgent balance of payment needs.
In spite of the dollar flow, government has projected that the economy will contract by 3.4 per cent this year due to the debilitating effects of COVID-19.
IMF Managing Director, Kristalina Georgieva, told CNBC Africa on Tuesay that the $3.4 billion had been credited to the CBN’s account.
Georgieva however said there was need for all receivers of the emergency fund in Nigeria to ‘keep receipts’ of expenditure.
According to her, the fund cannot afford to have credibility and accountability take back seats in the course of the COVID-19 crisis.
She explained that Nigeria had already met and exceeded the safeguards for the disbursement of the funds, which comes few days after the IMF board’s approval.
She said: ”We have already disbursed. In emergency assistance, the board approves, we disburse within days to the country and it goes to their Central Bank in dollars before it gets converted into naira in the case of Nigeria.
“The conditions are quite favourable. Repayment period is five years, up to two and half years is grace period and the interest on the loan is one per cent.”
The IMF said across Africa, countries are trying to build buffers to strengthen their economies, and for Nigeria, it is through collection of taxes.
She advised Nigeria to use the COVID-19 crisis to transform into a more resilient economy. “We have put in place policy tracking action, and we are seeing progress each country is making. The IMF will continue to support countries and shield them from catastrophic implications of the COVID-19 crisis,” she said.
Also on Tuesday the federal government again cut Budget 2020 plans to assume a lower petroleum price of $20 per barrel.
Finance Minister Zainab Ahmed stated this at a virtual conference tagged Citizens dialogue session on government fiscal policy decisions in response to the fall in oil prices and the COVID-19 pandemic.