Niger: IMF Executive Board Approves a US$114.49 Million Disbursement to Niger to Address the COVID-19 Pandemic

The severe drop in Africa's import and export trade as a result of the global COVID-19 pandemic is a major contributor to the continent's projected economic decline.

The Executive Board of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) today approved the disbursement of SDR83.66 million (about US$114.49 million) to be drawn under the Rapid Credit Facility (RCF). The RCF funds 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 continues to monitor Niger's situation closely and stands ready to provide policy advice and further support as needed. 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.

Following the Executive Board's discussion of Niger, Mr. Geoffrey Okamoto, First Deputy Managing Director and Chair, issued the following statement:

"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 authorities have moved quickly to formulate and implement a three-pronged plan with measures to contain the pandemic and alleviate its social and economic fallout. The IMF's financial assistance under the RCF covers an important part of the financing gap, thus supporting implementation of the anti-crisis plan. However, timely additional support from the international community is indispensable.

"A substantial widening of this year's budget deficit is appropriate, reflecting unavoidable revenue shortfalls and pressing spending needs for health care, social protection, and support for hard-hit businesses. The Ministry of Finance is comprehensively overseeing crisis measures, which should be as well-targeted and carefully assessed as possible. Transparency and good governance are important.

"The government remains committed to its economic reform program supported by an ongoing ECF arrangement with the IMF. It is centered on mobilizing domestic revenues, improving public spending efficiency, and strengthening the private sector while preserving macroeconomic stability and sustainable public finances."

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