The International Monetary Fund and Zambian authorities have held talks for an emergency financial support for the landlocked south-central African country amid COVID-19 economic disaster.
“An International Monetary Fund (IMF) staff team led by Dhaneshwar Ghura held virtual meetings during June 22–July 10 to discuss the Government of Zambia’s request for emergency support under the Rapid Credit Facility. The discussions covered the authorities’ response to the COVID-19 pandemic, recent economic developments, the economic outlook and policies for 2020 and the medium-term,” IMF said in a statement.
IMF staff held meetings with Finance Minister Bwalya Ng’andu, Bank of Zambia Governor Denny Kalyalya, senior Government and Bank of Zambia officials; and the private sector.
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According to Dhaneshwar Ghura, the social and macroeconomic impact of the COVID-19 shock, on top of a severe drought last year, will be heavy in Zambia.
“Growth is forecast at around ‑5 percent in 2020, substantially lower than envisaged at the beginning of the year, and the number of people living in extreme poverty is expected to increase,” Ghura said, adding that “fiscal pressures in 2020 have increased due to significantly lower revenue collections and higher spending needs.”
Zambia has requested support under the G20 Debt Service Standstill Initiative, which would provide temporary fiscal space this year.
Ghura said discussions covered both near- and medium-term policies to address economic challenges and the underlying macroeconomic vulnerabilities, “including the main elements of the revised 2020 Budget with a focus on spending for the COVID-19 health, social and economic response. Discussions will continue as the authorities determine their policies and priorities in the formulation of the revised 2020 Budget, as well as the medium-term fiscal stance needed to restore debt sustainability, revive growth and lower poverty.”