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IMF to Nigeria: You don’t need our loan, only fiscal discipline; lauds Buhari’s efforts at repositioning economy

Buhari and Lagarde
Buhari and Lagarde
Visiting Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Christine Lagarde, has commended the efforts so far initiated by the President Muhammadu Buhari-administration in the areas of economic restructuring, positing that the country does not need the organization’s financial assistance by way of loan.
Speaking with State House Correspondents, Tuesday, shortly after holding a closed-door meeting with President Buhari; Vice President Yemi Osinbajo; Finance minister, Kemi Adeosun and some key ministers inside the Presidential Villa, Abuja, Lagarde who arrived the country, Monday, said she and her team were not in Nigeria for any loan negotiations.
Others who attended the meeting included Minister of Budget and National Planning, Udo Udoma; Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi; and Minister of Works, Housing and Power, Babatunde Fashola, among others.
Lagarde said although Nigeria did not need IMF loan, fiscal discipline is needed for the country to be sustainable.
She said, “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 ambitions to serve the country well, in order for it to be actually sustainable.”
She said the IMF believed that with clear primary ambition to support poor Nigerians, there could be added flexibility in the monetary policy, particular if oil price slumped for longer period as expected.
She said the organisation’s position was that Nigeria should not deplete its reserves simply because of rules that would be exceedingly rigid.
While saying that she was not suggesting that rigidity be totally eliminated, the IMF boss argued that some degree of flexibility would be enough, this is just as she further observed that since her last visit to Nigeria four years ago, the country had witnessed a number of changes in the areas of democracy and economy.
Lagarde, who noted that Nigeria had become the largest economy in Africa, the most populated and with a very attractive market, however, regretted that things have changed in a more complicated way in the sense that the source of revenue to the government of which was predominantly oil had seen its price reduced by more than half.
She also noted that the financing cost around are beginning to rise only because the economic situation in the United States has improved and interest rates will begin to rise.

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