Updated: March 4, 2021
The Executive Board of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on Wednesday approved $213.6 million loan to Liberia with an immediate disbursement of SDR 17 million (about US$ 23.4 million).
The loan, a four-year arrangement under the Extended Credit Facility (ECF), is meant to help the country restore macroeconomic stability and improve living standards, the IMF said in a statement to TODAY NEWS AFRICA on Wednesday afternoon.
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An extended credit facility allows the borrowing business or country to take out money over an extended period of time rather than reapplying for a loan each time it needs money. In effect, a credit facility lets a company or country take out an umbrella loan for generating capital over an extended period of time.
First Deputy Managing Director and Acting Chair, Mr. Mitsuhiro Furusawa, said Liberia’s economic situation is challenging and fragile.
Inflation and year-on-year exchange rate depreciation are high at 30 percent, and growth is subdued.
Furusawa said the Liberian authorities were committed to “carrying out the prudent macroeconomic policies and ambitious structural reforms necessary to restore macroeconomic stability and to put Liberia on a fiscally sustainable and inclusive growth path under the Fund’s four-year Extended Credit Facility arrangement”.
He added: “The recent upfront fiscal tightening is welcome. To preserve the gains and to maintain budget credibility, it is important that the recently instituted set of fiscal controls is fully implemented. Moreover, strengthening tax policy and administration over the program period is critical to ensure that the public sector can operate effectively.
“The monetary tightening by the Central Bank of Liberia (CBL) enacted in November 2019 was necessary to reduce inflation. A key prerequisite for success would be full adherence to the program prohibition on government borrowing from the CBL.
“Liberia’s external vulnerabilities are significant, and foreign reserve stocks have fallen to low levels. In addition to eliminating the financing of the budget, building resilience will require containing the CBL’s operational expenses, and limiting foreign exchange intervention.
“Given that a small worsening of the terms of debt, or failure to sufficiently adjust the fiscal stance could edge Liberia closer to high risk of external debt distress, the authorities are committed to adhere to the ceiling on non-concessional borrowing and to refrain from non-transparent collateralized agreements under the Fund-supported program.
“Ensuring financial sector stability is an important element of the program. Improving data reporting, obtaining an overview of the health of the banking system, and taking decisive measures as needed will help identify and address financial sector vulnerabilities. At the same time, enhancing the legal framework is important to ensure that the CBL has the required instruments should remediation be necessary.
“Structural reforms aimed at improving governance will help reduce vulnerabilities to corruption and promote private-sector led growth.’’