Namibia gets first-ever funds from IMF to help fight COVID-19

PUBLISHED: Thu, 01 Apr 2021 14:36:55 GMT

WINDHOEK, April 1 (Reuters) – Namibia will for the first time receive $271 million from the International Monetary Fund to address the country’s deteriorating fiscal position which has been worsened by the COVID-19 pandemic, its finance ministry said on Thursday.

Namibia had previously avoided loans from the IMF since becoming a member in 1990, but the pandemic has hurt the country’s economy. Eighty-five nations have sought assistance from the lender under its Rapid Financing Instrument in the last 12 months.

The finance ministry said the funds will assist in the response to the COVID-19 health emergency, including the purchase and deployment of vaccines.

“The COVID-19 pandemic and its fallout have created a situation where Namibia’s fiscal deficit is widening substantially,” the finance ministry said in a statement.

Although Namibia has had just over 44,000 confirmed cases and 528 deaths compared to neighbouring South Africa which has had over 1.5 million infections, its economy has been severely battered.

The southwest African country’s debt is set to rise to 76.2% of GDP with a budget deficit of 8.6% of GDP in 2021/22.

Namibia’s statistics office said GDP had contracted by a record 8% in 2020, worse than the 7.3% estimate by the Bank of Namibia.

Only around 1,500 people have been vaccinated in Namibia so far, despite the country receiving 100,000 doses of the Chinese-donated Sinopharm vaccine and 30,000 doses of the Covishield vaccine donated by India. (Reporting by Nyasha Nyaungwa Editing by Tanisha Heiberg and Bernadette Baum)

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