Wednesday, 6 January 2016

We're not in Nigeria to negotiate IMF loan, says Lagarde

The Managing Director of International Monetary Fund (IMF) Christine Lagarde on Tuesday said that her visit to Nigeria was not meant to negotiate loans but rather to promote physical discipline and favourable monetary policies.

Lagarde stated this while fielding questions from State House correspondents after a closed-door meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari.

She said that she had an “excellent discussion'' with President Muhammadu Buhari on the challenges facing Nigeria occasioned by the drastic fall in oil price.

“Let me make it clear that I’m not here nor is my team in this country to negotiate a loan with conditionalities'.

“We are not into programme negotiations and frankly at this point in time, given the determination, resilience displayed by the President and his team, I don’t see why an IMF programme will be needed.

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“So, of course, discipline is going to be needed, of course, implementation is going to be key for the objectives and the ambitions to serve the country well, in order for it to be actually sustainable.''

On the assertion that IMF programmes are always anti-people, Lagarde described such view as outdated, saying IMF programmes were in favour of the less-privileged members of the society.

She said that the IMF policies and programmes were not meant to impoverish poorer member countries but rather to assist them with quality policy advice, technical assistance and capacity building.

According to her, about 150 out of the 188 member- countries of the IMF had so far benefited from the institution's technical assistance and capacity building.

“ If I may say, I think that you have slightly outdated idea of the IMF.

“Certainly, the last four and a half years, since I have been managing director of this institution, this is not the recipes we adopted and this is certainly not the feedback I have received from the countries that we have worked with.

“I just want to point out that we are majorly involved in three kinds of activities.

“The first one, which is the most traditional one, is under which we give policy advice to our members, we have currently 188 countries that are under this institution and it is our duty and accountability to them to review their economy every year to give them report about their economy.

“We don’t push them, we don’t do things necessarily to please them; we say things as we see them.

“The second activity, which is the fastest growing one in the institution, is technical assistance and capacity building, and there is plenty of that is available to all the countries of the world.

“It gives us pride to see that about 150 countries have had the benefit of technical assistance and capacity building.''

Lagarde, who pledged more technical assistance and capacity building for Nigeria, however, stressed the need for the country to develop a strong tax department, efficient debt management and customs authority to achieve a strong economy for the country.

She commended the determination of the President Buhari's administration to fight corrupt practices and to bring about transparency and accountability at all levels of the economy. (NAN).