Covid-19: Ghana sends SOS cash requests to IMF

Ken Ofori-Atta, Finance Minister

Ken Ofori-Atta, Finance Minister

WASHINGTON/ACCRA, March 27 (NNN-AGENCIES) — The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has revealed that the Ghana government, has sent a special request for money to help the country address the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

A statement issued by the IMF’s Communications Department said “Last week, the IMF received Ghana’s request for a disbursement under the Rapid Credit Facility to help the country address the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. We are working hard to evaluate the authorities’ request and bring it forward for Executive Board consideration as soon as possible.”

The information, comes amid the controversy surrounding the recently announced US$100 million Coronavirus cash by President Akufo-Addo, which was later discounted by the Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta, as unavailable.

The Funds Press Officer, Lucie Mboto Fouda, stated that IMF’s African Department director, Abebe Aemro Selassie, made the statement.

It did not mention how much cash the country is requesting for to manage the crisis which has afflicted some 52 people with two people already dead.

IMF Rapid Credit Facility (RCF) provides rapid concessional financial assistance with limited conditionality to low-income countries (LICs) facing an urgent balance of payments need.

The RCF was created under the Poverty Reduction and Growth Trust (PRGT) as part of a broader reform to make the Fund’s financial support more flexible and better tailored to the diverse needs of LICs, including in times of crisis. The RCF places emphasis on the country’s poverty reduction and growth objectives.

If released Financing under the RCF carries a zero interest rate, has a grace period of 5½ years, and a final maturity of 10 years.

About two weeks ago, Ofori-Atta disclosed that the $100 million devoted by President Akufo-Addo to fight coronavirus pandemic is not yet available.

He said, the government had applied to the World Bank to tap into the $12billion Fast Track COVID-19 Facility for Poverty and the $10billion facility managed by the IMF to address the pandemic.

“The assistance from these two institutions when approved will help close the financing gap,” he stated.

President Akufo-Addo, in an address on Sunday had directed the Finance Ministry to make available $100 million to help fight the coronavirus outbreak in Ghana after six cases were recorded.

The amount, according to the President, “is to fund the expansion of infrastructure, purchase of materials and equipment, and public education in the wake of the outbreak.”

But briefing Parliament about the fiscal impact of Covid-19 on March 16, the Finance Minister, said the government would augment allocations from the two institutions with local resources.

“Measures are being put in place for possible financing of the 2020 budget that will result in the impact of the coronavirus. These measures may include the withdrawal from the Ghana Stabilization Fund.

“We are also discussing with other multilateral and bilateral partners on the potential to close the financial gap. Mr Speaker, even in the global difficult circumstances Ghana is blessed. This honorable house has granted approval to raise $3billion from the Eurobond market for 2020…to support the economy in this dire time.”

“We continue to believe that our land will soon be healed,” he said with much conviction.

He also mentioned that an analysis taken by the ministry shows that the coronavirus is likely to affect the country negatively. — NNN-AGENCIES