Nigerian authorities have promised to be transparent and accountable with the $3.4 billion COVID-19 loan the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari secured in April, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) said at a press briefing on Thursday.
The IMF approved Nigeria’s $3.4 billion loan in April to help Africa’s most populous country combat COVID-19 health emergency and its economic fallout. Nigeria also secured billions of dollars from the World Bank in Washington DC and the African Development Bank in Abidjan to respond to the economic devastation caused by COVID-19 and the fall in oil prices.
The IMF billions, approved under the Rapid Financing Instrument (RFI), which provides very rapid financial assistance without countries having the need for a full-fledged IMF program, was to help shield jobs and businesses and respond to the pandemic. At least, that is what the Nigerian Minister of Finance, Zainab Ahmed, told the Washington DC-based institution in a letter on April 21.
Speaking at a press briefing on Thursday, Gerry Rice, the IMF Communications Director, said the Nigerian government has promised total transparency and accountability for the billions of dollars secured to combat COVID-19.
“I’ve talked before here about the importance of whilst there is no traditional IMF conditionality on these emergency funds, there is an emphasis on accountability, and transparency, and good governance of these funds,” Gerry Rice said.
“In the case of Nigeria, to enhance transparency and governance, the Nigerian authorities have committed to several accountability measures. Specifically, conducting an independent audit of crisis mitigation spending and related procurement processes, publishing procurement plans and notices for all emergency response activities, including the names of awarded companies and beneficial owners.
“And creating special budget lines to record all crisis emergency response measures which are published daily on Nigeria’s Treasury On-Line Portal. So, the digital access helping to promoted transparency in this case.
“And these measures will not only ensure that the financial assistance received as part of the COVID-19 response is used for its intended purposes, but also significantly strengthened the oversight of the entire budget process and resources being used for the government’s crisis response,” Gerry Rice said.