IMF says no lending to Sudan until arrears addressed
Sudan’s Transitional Military Council is in talks with opposition groups on the formation of a joint body to lead a transition from 30 years of autocratic rule by Omar al-Bashir.
It ousted and arrested al-Bashir after months of protests.
Jihad Azour, Director of the IMF’s Middle East and Central Asia department, told Reuters on Monday that Sudan’s Transitional Military Council had not approached the IMF about the country’s debt.
“We have been engaged with Sudan, we provide them (Sudan authorities) with technical assistance and policy support,” Azour said.
But he added: “We cannot provide them with financing because they are still incurring arrears, and until they address this arrear issue, in our bylaws, we cannot provide them with additional lending.”
The IMF in late 2017 estimated Sudan’s arrears to the fund to be $1.3 billion this year, out of a total external debt estimated at $59 billion.
The United States imposed a range of sanctions on Sudan, first over Khartoum’s perceived support for militants, later its violent suppression of rebels in Darfur.
Ukraine expects $5bn IMF loan approval on June 5 — PM
Prime Minister Denys Shmygal says Ukraine expects the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to approve a 5 billion dollars (4.05 billion pounds) loan package at a board meeting on June 5, Reuters reported on Friday.
Shmygal added that the first tranche of 1.9 billion dollars would be disbursed the following day.
“Gross domestic product could fall by 12 per cent in the second quarter of this year, according to a preliminary estimate,’’ Shmygal said in an interview with Reuters.
He also said that the government would allow wheat exporters to export freely for the next two months.
Edited By: Abiodun Oluleye/Wale Ojetimi (NAN)
COVID-19 worsens pre-existing financial vulnerabilities: IMF
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) said Friday that pandemic-triggered economic crisis is “exposing and worsening financial vulnerabilities” that have built up during the past decade, warning of more instability and a new financial crisis.
After a decade of “extremely low rates and volatility,” there are three potential weak spots in the global financial system: risky segments in global credit markets, emerging markets, and banks, two IMF officials wrote in a blog.
“Should the ongoing economic contraction last longer or be deeper than currently expected, the resulting tightening of financial conditions may be amplified by these vulnerabilities, causing more instability or even a financial crisis,” the officials said.
The blog, part of a special IMF series on the response to the COVID-19 pandemic, was authored by Tobias Adrian, financial counsellor and director of the IMF’s Monetary and Capital Markets Department, and Fabio Natalucci, deputy director of department.
Noting that risky segments of credit markets have expanded rapidly since the global financial crisis, they said potential fragilities include borrowers’ weaker credit quality, looser underwriting standards, liquidity risks at investment funds, and increased interconnectedness.
Policymakers should act decisively to contain COVID-19‘s fallout and support the flow of credit to firms, the IMF officials said, urging regulators to encourage asset managers to be prudent and use all available liquidity management tools to address risks.
“Once the crisis is over, a comprehensive assessment of the sources of market dislocations and underlying vulnerabilities it unmasked should be conducted,” they said, highlighting that policymakers should consider whether including nonbanks in the regulatory and supervisory perimeter is warranted, given their expanded role in risky credit markets.
On emerging markets, the IMF officials noted that they saw capital outflows of over 100 billion U.S. dollars since the beginning of the pandemic, nearly twice as big (relative to GDP) as those experienced during the global financial crisis.
Noting that the prolonged period of low interest rates encouraged both borrowers and creditors to take more risks, they said the resulting surge of portfolio inflows into riskier asset markets contributed to the buildup of debt and in some cases resulted in stretched valuations in emerging and frontier markets.
The IMF officials said emerging markets should manage external pressures by allowing their exchange rate to depreciate. “If exchange-rate movements become disorderly, authorities should consider intervening in foreign exchange markets,” they said.
They also suggested temporary capital flow management measures may have to be used in the face of substantial outflows.
On banks, the officials said profitability has been a persistent challenge for banks in several advanced economies since the global financial crisis, noting that extremely low interest rates have compressed banks‘ net interest margins.
A simulation exercise conducted for a group of nine advanced economies indicates that a large fraction of their banks, by assets, may fail to generate profits above their cost of equity in 2025, according to the blog.
Various strategies to preserve and strengthen capital should be considered, including restricting dividend payouts and share buybacks, they continued, echoing recent remarks by IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva, who urged halting bank dividends and buybacks in light of the COVID-19-induced economic contraction.
In the coming years, authorities will need to take on some of the structural challenges banks face, the two IMF officials said. For example, financial sector authorities should incorporate the potential impact of low interest rates in their decisions and risk assessments.
Ukraine, IMF agree on 5-bln-USD aid program to battle COVID-19
Ukraine and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) have reached an agreement on a new 5-billion-U.S.-dollar aid program to help the country cope with impacts of COVID-19 pandemic, the Interfax-Ukraine News Agency reported Friday.
The deal was based on the so-called Stand-By Arrangement, an economic program of the IMF involving financial aid to help countries in need during an economic crisis.
The program will ensure Ukraine’s ability to continue moving along the growth path and resume wider reforms when the crisis ends, said Ivanna Vladkova Hollar, mission chief for the Ukraine IMF office.
Kiev expects to receive the first funds before the end of this month or in early June.
IMF says China’s experience in combating COVID-19 offers valuable lessons
China was the first to take very strong actions and is the first to be exiting the COVID-19 crisis, so there are a lot of valuable lessons to be learned from China‘s experience, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) said Thursday.
“What they’ve done broadly on the monetary and the fiscal front, of course, which many other countries have taken strong measures in those areas, the way that China is letting the economy adjust to these new and difficult circumstances, which, again, is something all countries need to do,” Rice said.
The IMF spokesperson said that China is moving ahead in some areas, which can carry lessons for others. “For example, in electronic payment systems, e-commerce, linking very small firms to markets and consumers,” he said.
“I think China‘s experience is very important to look at, as this global crisis evolves,” Rice said.
He also said that China has an important role to play in helping the world and the poorer countries, in particular, noting that China has pledged to support the Group of Twenty Debt Relief Initiative for low-income countries.
The IMF spokesperson welcomed China and a number of other countries’ “very generous contribution” to the Catastrophe Containment and Relief Trust (CCRT), which can provide some debt relief to the IMF’s poorest member countries.
Rice said under the revamped CCRT, 27 countries have so far received immediate relief on their payment obligations to the multilateral lender. “We’re looking to triple that debt relief from the IMF,” he said.
At the press briefing, the spokesperson also noted that the IMF has received emergency financing requests from 102 countries, of which 59 had been approved as of Wednesday.
IMF chief urges halting of bank dividends, buybacks amid COVID-19 pandemic
International Monetary Fund (IMF) Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva on Thursday urged the halting of bank dividends and buybacks in light of the COVID-19 induced economic contraction, noting that such actions could help reinforce bank buffers.
In an opinion piece published on the Financial Times, the IMF chief said even though the resilience of the financial system has been significantly strengthened after the 2008 financial crisis, as the world braces for a deep recession this year, “this resilience will be tested.”
“Having in place strong capital and liquidity positions to support fresh credit will be essential. One of the steps needed to reinforce bank buffers is retaining earnings from ongoing operations. These are not insignificant,” Georgieva said.
According to IMF calculation, the 30 global systemically important banks distributed about 250 billion U.S. dollars in dividends and share buybacks last year. “This year they should retain earnings to build capital in the system,” she said.
Noting that the interests of bank shareholders are aligned with those of bank supervisors and customers, Georgieva said all stakeholders will also ultimately benefit if banks preserve capital instead of paying out to shareholders during the pandemic.
The breakdown looks like this: direct budget support is currently estimated at 4.4 trillion dollars globally, and additional public sector loans and equity injections, guarantees, and other quasi-fiscal operations amount to another 4.6 trillion, the blog said.
Central banks, meanwhile, have also provided extraordinary liquidity support to a wide range of markets.
“The public sector is doing what it can to help prevent another banking crisis from happening again. Shareholders have both an interest and an obligation to do the same,” Georgieva said.
The IMF chief pointed out that in some countries, banks have voluntarily decided to collectively suspend shareholder payouts and buybacks, and in others, authorities have had to push.
“The need to preserve capital is already being recognized and needs to be so more widely,” she said. “Collective decisions are vital.”
French ambassador urges Lebanon to accelerate talks with IMF
French Ambassador to Lebanon Bruno Foucher on Monday urged Lebanese officials to accelerate talks with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to be able to unlock CEDRE funds, LBCI local TV channel reported.
“Talks with the IMF and the economic strategy adopted by the cabinet are two very important steps to be able to receive funds from CEDRE,” Foucher said, following a meeting held with Lebanese Prime Minister Hassan Diab at the Grand Serail to discuss latest economic developments.
Foucher noted that the coming days will constitute a very important period to continue talks with the IMF and reach positive results with regard to Lebanon’s economic strategy and necessary reforms.
Meanwhile, Diab said his cabinet is working hard to implement reforms requested by CEDRE and the international community in a bid to restore confidence in Lebanon.
“We will be working in this direction and I am sure we will be able to restore prosperity to our economy,” Diab said.
CEDRE refers to the Conference for Economic Development and Reform through Enterprises, hosted by France in 2018, to help Lebanon raise funds to finance its plan to modernize infrastructure and develop economy.
Lebanon has pledged during CEDRE conference to adopt certain reform measures in a bid to unlock 11 billion U.S. dollars in loans and donations to support its ailing economy.
However, the previous government was incapable of taking measures to implement serious reforms.
The current government is holding talks with the IMF to discuss its economic plan and receive financial and technical support from the fund.
IMF approves 520 mln USD to help Jamaica address COVID-19 impact
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) on Friday approved Jamaica’s request for emergency financial assistance of about 520 million U.S. dollars to help meet the urgent balance-of-payments needs stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Despite the authorities’ best efforts, the pandemic is severely impacting the Jamaican economy, as a sudden stop in tourism and falling remittances are generating a sizable balance-of-payments need,” Zhang Tao, deputy managing director of the IMF, said in a statement, adding the economic outlook remains subject to “an unusually high degree of uncertainty”.
The disbursement under the IMF’s Rapid Financing Instrument (RFI) will strengthen Jamaican reserves and help catalyze additional support from other international financial institutions and development partners, Zhang noted.
“Once the crisis abates, building on their demonstrated commitment to reform and stability-oriented measures, the authorities should continue the implementation of their ambitious reform agenda to support the economic recovery and ensure strong and sustainable economic growth,” he said.
The Government of Jamaica has declared the entire island as a disaster area and established a special taskforce to coordinate the country’s COVID-19 response and recovery efforts, according to the IMF.
Uganda’s reserves will decline sharply without external help – IMF
Without external help, Uganda’s foreign exchange reserves will fall to under two months of import cover in 2020/21 and leave the country in a vulnerable position, the International Monetary Fund said in a statement issued on Friday.
“Absent external support, the expected deterioration in the current, capital and financial accounts would result in a sharp decline of the Bank of Uganda’s (BoU) reserve buffer,” the IMF said.
“This would be below the adequate level of reserves for Uganda, and would leave the country in a vulnerable position,” it added.
Edited By: Emmanuel Okara/Ephraims Sheyin (NAN)
Ukrainian parliament passes banking law for IMF loans
The Ukrainian parliament has passed a law on preventing the return of nationalized or liquidated commercial banks to their former owners, meeting the last requirement to get 5.5 billion U.S. dollars in loans from the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
The adoption of the law on Wednesday was hailed by Ambassador of the European Union (EU) to Ukraine Matti Maasikas as “a vital measure to protect public finances and Ukrainian taxpayers.”
It is vital “for economic stability, fairness, rule of law, continuing IMF and EU financial assistance,” Maasikas said on Twitter.
In December 2019, the Ukrainian president, the government, and the National Bank of Ukraine agreed with the IMF to open a three-year financing program, which amounts to 5.5 billion U.S. dollars.
The final decision has to be made by the Fund’s management and board of directors after Kiev meets all requirements, including the adoption of several laws.
In late March, the Ukrainian parliament voted to lift a ban on sales of farmland to meet one of the requirements needed to unlock the IMF loan program.
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