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On COVID IMF Gives Angola More Inner City Press Asked of Bribes in Belarus & Cameroon

By Matthew Russell Lee, Patreon
BBC - Guardian UK - Honduras - The Source

NEW YORK, SDNY, Sept 16 – When the International Monetary Fund held its biweekly embargoed media briefing on September, Inner City Press submitted questions including on Belarus, Kenya, Honduras and Cameroon which IMF Spokesperson Gerry Rice took and answered.

   Inner City Press asked about investigations of corruption in COVID-19 spending in Kenya, the Cameroon of Paul Biya and the Honduras of Juan Orlando Hernandez, and fellow strongman Aleksandr Lukashenko's claim to state Belarusian Telegraph Agency, BelTA, that the IMF offered him a "bribe" of $940 million as Covid Relief Aid, demanding that he "impose "extreme lockdown on his people," force them to wear face masks and impose very strict curfews, see below.

 Now on September 16 on Angola, this: " The Executive Board of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) today completed the third review of Angola’s economic program supported by an extended arrangement under the Extended Fund Facility (EFF). Completion of this review unlocks access to SDR 731.7 million (about US$1 billion), bringing total disbursements under the extended arrangement to SDR 1,804.7 million (about US$2.5 billion).  Angola’s three-year extended arrangement was approved by the IMF Executive Board on December 7, 2018, in the amount of SDR 2.673 billion (about US$3.7 billion at the time of approval). It aims at restoring external and fiscal sustainability, improving governance, and diversifying the economy to promote sustainable, private sector-led economic growth.  In completing the third review, the Executive Board also approved the authorities’ request for an augmentation of access under the EFF arrangement of 72 percent of Angola’s quota (SDR 540 million or about US$765 million) to support authorities’ efforts to control the spread of COVID-19 pandemic, mitigate its economic impact, and persevere with the implementation of structural reforms.  Angola’s economy has been hit hard by a triple, COVID-19-induced external shock. The shock led to economic and health crises, compounded by the decline in oil prices in view of Angola’s dependence on oil exports. In response, the authorities have adopted decisive measures to tackle the impact of the shock, and they remain strongly committed to the program, including the fight against corruption. On the fiscal front, the National Assembly adopted a conservative supplementary budget, which includes non-oil revenue measures and compression of non-essential expenditure, while creating space for essential spending on health and the social safety net. On the monetary front, the central bank has adopted several measures to ease liquidity and credit constraints to help the private sector cope with the crises.  The Executive Board also approved today the authorities’ request for waivers of nonobservance and applicability of performance criteria and modification of some performance criteria, indicative targets, and structural benchmarks.  Following the Executive Board’s discussion on Angola, Ms. Antoinette Sayeh, Deputy Managing Director and Acting Chair, issued the following statement:  “The Angolan authorities remain committed to sound policies under the IMF-supported program despite a deteriorated external environment due to the COVID-19 pandemic, including negative impacts on public health, social protection, the budget, and public debt. The authorities have taken swift and decisive action, in response to lower oil exports and revenue, consistent with broad program objectives."

    On September 10 Rice replied that while the IMF does require recipients to follow WHO guidelines to contain the virus. On corruption, he declined to answer country by country but cited an IMF online tracker on which we'll have more. Interestingly, he said the move of more things like this online has benefits, including in fighting corruption.  But we ask, at the UN?

  Back in July IMF spokesperson Rice said, "We got some questions from Matthew Lee in New York, including on Zambia, and he was asking, what's the state of play? What's the IMF's thinking? What does the IMF think the role of debt to China in the nation's current situation?  I have spoken about Zambia recently here at the podium. In terms of the current status, yes, the Zambian authorities have requested IMF support for their economic program to restore macroeconomic stability, as well has assistance under our emergency financing to help address the human and the economic impact of the pandemic.  I can tell you, that a virtual IMF staff mission took place June 22 to July 10 to discuss the emergency financing request. Progress was made, but discussions continue as the authorities determine their policies and priorities in the context of their revised 2020 budget, as well as the medium-term fiscal stance needed to restore debt sustainability, revive growth and reduce poverty. That’s where we are on Zambia."

 At least the IMF answers Press questions. We'll have more on this - watch this site. 


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