Countries need to maintain supportive spending on their economies to avoid the worst costs of coronavirus strain COVID-19, IMF spokesman Gerry Rice told reporters Thursday in Washington, DC.
“Supportive fiscal and monetary policies will need to continue as needed until we can secure a safe and a durable exit from the crisis,” said Rice at a virtual news conference.
Citing statements by the IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva supporting the outcome of the EU summit over the weekend Rice said that the IMF welcomed the move by leaders to keep spending.
“And as Kristalina Georgieva emphasized, and this was one of her main messages: premature withdrawal of fiscal support could derail the recovery and incur larger costs. So, again, it's important that the supportive actions, fiscal and monetary, continue as needed at this stage in the crisis.”
Rice was asked several questions about the status of negotiations between Argentina and its creditors.
“It's always the case, actually, that this is a bilateral matter for the country concerned and for its creditors. And that's true also in the case of Argentina. We hope all parties involved will continue to work constructively and in a timely fashion, with the goal of reaching an agreement that would put public debt on a sustainable path and set the basis for inclusive and durable growth going forward,” Rice said.
He also noted that at this time Argentina has not come to the IMF to request any financial assistance.
The IMF has been very active in supporting Sub-Sahara Africa, Rice said. Already the Fund has provided over $10 billion in emergency assistance to the region – 10 times the average annual disbursement.
Although current emergency financing has not carried the traditional IMF conditionalities, Rice noted that countries are obligated to spend the money responsibly and show good governance and transparency.
Asked specifically about Nigeria, Rice noted: “In the case of Nigeria to enhance transparency and governance, the Nigerian authorities have committed to several accountability measures, specifically: conducting an independent audit of crisis mitigation spending and related procurement processes; publishing procurement plans and notices for all emergency response activities; including the names of awarded companies and beneficial owners; and creating special budget lines to record all crisis emergency response measures, which are published daily on Nigeria's Treasury online portal.”
A full transcript of the news briefing may be found at IMF.org