IMF to Help Nigeria Recover Looted Funds

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Christine Lagarde

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Christine Lagarde, managing director, International Monetary Fund, during a meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday, assures the country that she will help to recover looted funds and suggests economic measures to help Nigeria

THE International Monetary Fund, IMF, has promised to assist the federal government in recovering stolen funds, plugging revenue leakages and restructuring the country’s tax system. Christine Lagarde, managing director, IMF, stated this during a closed-door meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari in Abuja, on Tuesday, January 5. She said the country had all the potential to overcome the current economic challenge of falling commodity prices without resorting to the IMF for financial support.

Lagarde, who is in the country on a four-day working visit, said she was not in the country to negotiate loans with the federal government. She said although Nigeria did not need the IMF loans, fiscal discipline would be needed for the country to be sustainable. “Let me make it clear that I am not here (in Nigeria) nor is my team in this country to negotiate a loan with conditionality. We are not into programme negotiations and frankly at this point in time, given the determination and resilience displayed by the President and his team, I don’t see why an IMF programme will be needed. So, of course, discipline is going to be needed; of course, implementation is going to be key for the objectives and the ambition to serve the country well in order for it to be actually sustainable,” she said.

On her meeting with President Buhari, Lagarde said she and her team had excellent discussions with the president and that they discussed the challenges ahead for the economy stemming from oil price slump. She said the meeting stressed the necessity to apply fiscal discipline and the need to also respond to the population needs, while addressing the medium term specificities of improving the competitiveness of Nigeria and also focusing on the short term fiscal situation.

According to a statement by Femi Adesina, special adviser to the president on media and publicity, President Buhari said he had told all heads of ministries, departments and agencies of government that under his leadership, they must give full account of all funds allocated to them.

He said his administration would look inwards, enforce regulations to stop financial leakages and adopt global best practices in generating more revenue to mitigate the effects of dwindling oil prices on the Nigerian economy. Adesina further quoted the president as saying that his administration would also enforce greater discipline, probity and accountability in all revenue generating agencies of the federal government.

“We have just come out of budget discussions after many weeks of taking into consideration the many needs of the country and the downturn in the economy with falling oil prices and the negative economic forecasts. We are working very hard and with the budget as our way forward; we will do our best to ensure that our country survives the current economic downturn.

“We have also told all heads of Ministries, Departments and Agencies of government that on our watch, they will fully account for all funds that get into their coffers.”

The IMF boss’ meeting with the president was attended by Yemi Osinbajo, vice president, Kemi Adeosun, minister of finance; Udo Udoma, minister of budget and national planning; Rotimi Amaechi, minister of transportation and Babatunde Fashola, minister of works, housing and power.

—  Jan 6, 2016 @ 14:10 GMT

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