IMF approves disbursement of $114.49 million to Niger to respond to COVID-19 economic consequences

The Executive Board of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on Tuesday approved the disbursement of $114.49 million to Niger to respond to the novel coronavirus pandemic economic ramifications.

The money, to be drawn under the Rapid Credit Facility (RCF), will help address “Niger’s urgent balance of payments need by filling important financing gaps in Niger’s fiscal and external accounts and should also help to catalyze additional donor support”, the IMF said in a statement.

The Executive Board also approved a rephasing of disbursements under the Extended Credit Facility (ECF) that has been supporting Niger’s economic reform program since January 2017, to allow more time for the completion of the next program review while maximizing financial support under the RCF.

Mr. Geoffrey Okamoto, IMF First Deputy Managing Director and Board Chair, said the COVID-19 pandemic is having “a pronounced negative economic impact on Niger and downside risks are significant.”

“The economic downturn, fiscal pressures, and tightening financial conditions are giving rise to large financing gaps in Niger’s public finances and balance of payments this year. The IMF’s financial assistance under the RCF covers an important part of the financing gap, thus supporting implementation of the anti-crisis plan,” Okamoto added.

He said timely additional support from the international community was indispensable.

Okamoto recommended a substantial widening of this year’s budget deficit, an appropriate step reflecting “unavoidable revenue shortfalls and pressing spending needs for health care, social protection, and support for hard-hit businesses”, adding that transparency and good governance were important.

Chief White House Correspondent for

Simon Ateba is Chief White House Correspondent for Today News Africa. Simon covers President Joe Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, the U.S. government, the United Nations, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and other financial and international institutions in Washington D.C. and New York City.

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