Tuesday, January 5, 2016 10:27 pm
Madam Christine Lagarde, Managing Director, International Monetary Fund, has said she was not in Nigeria to negotiate a loan conditions for the country.
Lagarde, who on Tuesday addressed a press conference at the State House, Abuja, after a closed door meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari, said contrary to the widespread perception she was in the country to hold discussion with the president on the state of the Nigerian economy and the need to apply fiscal discipline in the light of dwindling oil prices.
According to Lagarde, who is on a four-day visit to Nigeria, given the determination and resilience displayed by the presidency and his team, she doesn’t see why an IMF programme is going to be needed.
“Let me be very clear: I’m not here nor is my team here to negotiate a loan with conditionalities, we’re not programming negotiations because Nigeria does not need a new IMF programme,” said Lagarde, who was flanked by Nigeria’s Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun and IMF Africa’s head.
Lagarde revealed that the talk with President Buhari was excellent and “the challenges ahead stemming from the oil price reduction” were discussed as well as the necessity of other revenue sources.
“We discussed the necessity to apply fiscal discipline and the need to respond to the population’s needs, improving the competitiveness of Nigeria and focusing on the short-term fiscal situation,” she said.
Nigeria has been forced to embrace near austerity measures to cover up for the fall in revenue resulting from the drop in the oil price in the international market.
This has also affected the naira which has hit an all time low in the exchange market with inflation rising beyond 10 percent and GDP growth stalled to under 3.0 percent.
President Buhari’s administration has therefore places as one of his major priorities the re-stabilizing the economy as well as tackle corruption and government waste which would in turn boost transparency and accountability.
Lagarde thus sees these as “very ambitious goals that need to be delivered upon”.
She however said IMF considers Nigeria a key player in global financial structure, adding that ongoing reforms in the country would definitely have a great impact on Nigeria’s neighbours.
Lagarde, who also was France former Finance Minister, disclosed that since her last visit four years ago, many things have changed about Nigeria and this are in more complicated ways.
The IMF boss will also meet with the leaders of the National Assembly, Central Bank Governor and business leaders to hold talks.