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African countries need to quickly ask for debt relief over COVID19 – Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala

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Former minister of finance, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala has advised Nigeria and other African countries to quickly pressure the G7 and G20 for debt-relief in order to deal with the economic and health issues arising from the novel Coronavirus.

The economic expert who played a huge role in getting Nigeria an $18 billion debt-relief as minister of finance, stated a debt relief will aid in getting resources to tackle the spread of Coronavirus.

Okonjo-Iweala averred that the money owed by some African countries can be channeled towards dealing with Coronavirus.

She told BBC;

“You know we have several sources, you’ve got the African Development Bank, which has just floated a social bond for $3 billion that will be available to the countries on the continent,” she said.

“You have the World Bank that has set aside $14 billion of which they’ve already committed $2 billion to 25 countries — and 11 of them are Africans. Many of our countries need to move, to take advantage of this, and they are willing to commit $150 billion dollars over the next 15 months.

“The IMF has put forward $50 billion as an emergency fund, and already 80 countries have applied for this, many of them African.

“It also has a $1 billion grant fund; catastrophe containment and relief trust, which they can approach. Let me mention my own organisation, GAVI, where I am chair of the board. We have made immediately available $200 million to $300 million grant.

“Once these monies become available, if the countries get debt relief, that means that the monies they would have been paying to service the debt that they’ve taken from other countries; bilateral debts or from institutions, this monies can now be used to procure food and supplied and support the livelihood of people in the rural and urban area.

“Government can use these resources as part of an intervention fund to help people directly, and I think this is what they should be looking to do. But we need to move quickly, the debt relief we haven’t got it yet.

“There needs to be a great deal of pressure on the G7, G20 to come forward with this measure and then countries need to start availing themselves of the already available resources, and then pressure for the debt relief.”

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