The International Monetary Fund has clarified that Zambia long with a few other African countries is not in the priority bracket for accessing debt relief package from the Fund.
Zambia among with Burundi, Zimbabwe and Congo including Cote d’Ivoire are some of the countries that have missed out on the Covid-19 debt relief.
IMF Director of the African Department Abebe Selassie explained that Zambia missed out on the initial list of debt relief beneficiaries because it is not classified as most vulnerable and poorest.
Mr Selassie was answering questions from Journalists during a virtual press conference when the Fund launched the Sub-Saharan Africa Regional Economic Outlook report recently.
“First and foremost, of course, is the financing we’re providing to countries to be able to pursue the supportive policies and have more resources to spend in health, have more resources to provide social protection to populations,” Mr Selassie said.
“And I’m happy to say that in the next 6-8 weeks, we will be — for the 32 countries that have already made requests and we are processing those requests — we will be providing of the order of about $11.5 billion for those 32 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa that are in the process of — the discussions are well underway.”
He added, “Over and above this, what we have done is to look for resources that would allow us to provide grants to countries that have debt service payments falling due to the IMF for the remainder of this year.”
“And these grants will offset the debt service payments that would otherwise have had to be made to countries. So, what this will do, of course, is create more fiscal space for countries to devote to higher health spending, higher social protection, that needs to be spent.”
“So, whether you’re a beneficiary of this grant depends, first and foremost, on countries — you know, we have enough resources for the poorest, most vulnerable countries; 25 or so countries — so, a per capita income threshold. And then second, whether you have debt service payments due falling this year.“
Mr Selassie said the Fund hopes to extend the financing relief should it generate more money in the coming months.
“But right now, we have enough resources, really, to provide this debt relief for this year. And the resources for this have come from donations from member countries of the IMF, including the United Kingdom and Japan, amongst others,” he said.