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IMF Has $52M For South Sudan After Inner City Press Asked of Cameroon and Ivory Coast

By Matthew Russell Lee, Patreon Video
BBC - Guardian UK - Honduras - ESPN

SDNY COURTHOUSE, Nov 11 – When the International Monetary Fund addressed sub Saharan Africa on October 21, Inner City Press posed questions on Cameroon and on Cote d'Ivoire.

Inner City Press asked the IMF's Abebe Aemro Selassie, Director, African Department: "On Cameroon, in light of the October 21 announcement of additional COVID-related aid, what safeguards are in place to engage a lack of corruption in distribution, and to prevent the torture which many human rights groups allege?"

  His answer involved assurances that the beneficial owners of companies getting government contracts, for COVID and otherwise, should be made public. Video here.

  Now on November 11 from the IMF on South Sudan, this: "The Executive Board of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) today approved a disbursement of SDR 36.9 million (about US$52.3 million or 15 percent of its SDR quota) to South Sudan under the Rapid Credit Facility (RCF) . This is the first Fund supported financial assistance provided to South Sudan since it joined the Fund in 2012.  The disbursement will help finance South Sudan’s urgent balance of payments needs, contain the fiscal impact of the shock and will provide critical fiscal space to maintain poverty-reducing and growth-enhancing spending.  Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, South Sudan had achieved significant progress due to improved political stability and an uptick in global oil prices. Economic growth rebounded, inflation declined, and the exchange rate stabilized. However, the pandemic and oil price shock created severe economic disruption, leading to deterioration in the fiscal and external balances, and a sharp decline in growth, reversing some early gains from political stability. South Sudan economy is projected to contract 3.6 percent in FY20/21, about 10 percentage points below the pre-pandemic baseline.  The authorities have committed to public financial management reforms, transparency and accountability to ensure that the RCF resources are used appropriately and for their intended purpose.  Following the Executive Board discussion, Mr. Mitsuhiro Furusawa, Deputy Managing Director and Acting Chair, issued the following statement: 'The COVID-19 pandemic has severely affected South Sudan and reversed early gains from political stability.'"

  Back in October, Inner City Press also asked about Cote d'Ivoire, where IMF alumni Ouattara is running for a third term. The answer was largely praising Cote d'Ivoire economic diversity. Here's the transcript:

MR. VILKAS:  Thank you.  The next question is also now through Webex.  It's Matthew Lee who wants to ask questions.  Matthew, do you hear us?              

MR. LEE:  Thanks a lot.  I wanted to know, I saw yesterday, the announcement of continued disbursement to Cameroon and obviously it is a country in need, but there are a lot of issues that have risen, not only about human right issues, or people that have fled the country due to conflict in the northwest and southwest, but also some alleged corruption in the distribution of COVID‑19 aid.  So, I'm wondering, if you can, kind of, as you can say, how does -- how do the general principals of ensuring that this aid actually helps people?  How are they implemented, generally and specifically in Cameroon?     And just finally, on Côte d'Ivoire there's controversy of your alumni Alassane Ouattara.  Without getting into the politics of that, what's a been the impact of the pandemic on Côte d'Ivoire and what are your views on its prospects going forward?  Thanks a lot.              

MR. SELASSIE:  Thanks.  On Cameroon, of course, conditions remain very difficult socially, and economically as a result of the pandemic.  And yesterday, actually we had -- we went to the Board for disbursements there.  On almost all of our operations with countries that we've been doing in the context of the Rapid Credit Facility, we have been asking the authorities to, number one, explain what the resources are being used to.  And then, number two, use their institutions, and if their institutions are not strong enough, external auditors, to show that those resources have been used for the intended purpose.  I think already, you know -- and also, sorry a third element of this is that beneficiary owners of the companies that are being awarded contracts are published.                So already, you know, yesterday there was some reporting, if you look at the staff report on Cameroon, on the, you know, on how the resources from the first disbursement were used.  And also, of course, you know, the beneficial owners of companies for those benefits.  So, there's already some reporting.  And this is something that we are working diligently to get into the public information.                We strongly, strongly believe that not only is governance important, you know, for countries benefit, but also, what we can do is bring about a lot of transparency in terms of how resources are used.  This is a core function that we do through our work in helping certain countries public finance management systems, but at times like this, I think when resources are being provided quickly.  It's really important also that, you know, there is transparency in how these resources are being used.                We want this information to be in the public domain so that civil society organizations, anti-corruption agencies can all scrutinize how these resources are being used and this is an area of what we are very, very diligently, following on.  And that's our contribution to making sure that that there continues to be improved governance.    

SELASSIE:  So, on Côte d'Ivoire you know, the WAEMU region more broadly has seen even within the African context of limited infection levels the WAEMU overall has seen even lower, you know, at the lower end of infection rates.  So, in terms of the direct infection numbers, even controlling for testing being low, it seems that the number of COVID cases has remained low.  So that is very encouraging, and we've also seen overall in the WAEMU fairly strong economic, somewhat stronger economic outcomes than elsewhere in the region.  On account of a bit more diversified economic structures that countries have.  But again, you know, even there, we are looking at very anemic or even negative real per capita growth rates, including in Côte d'Ivoire.  So, the conditions have remained fairly weak and they continue to you know, much of what I was saying earlier, the policy challenges remain as challenging as elsewhere.

 Earlier in the week, Inner City Press asked the IMF: "What is the IMF's assessment of the turmoil in Kyrgyz Republic? Can or will the IMF to do anything to assist, including on continued COVID-19 response as well as debt to China / Eximbank?"  

His answer, interim video here, recounted the IMF's pre-turmoil assistance to Kyrgyzstan. here

 Inner City Press also asked, "On Yemen, what is the status of the use of the new riyal banknotes printed by the Central Bank in Yemen, and any actions taken by the IMF?" and, when called on by video for a follow-up, about the Nagorno Karabakh conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia.  Video on YouTube here.

  On the latter, Jihad Azour cited the IMF's Technical Assistant center set for Almaty, Kazakhstan and said the IMF joins in calls for a ceasefire (which have been mouthed by but not followed up on by the UNresponsive UN). We'll have more on this.


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