IMF, Ethiopia agree framework for loan deal reviews

NAIROBI (Reuters) – The International Monetary Fund said on Tuesday it had agreed a blueprint for the completion of reviews of Ethiopia’s loan programme, taking account of the impact of the coronavirus and the country’s “domestic security situation”.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) logo is seen outside the headquarters building in Washington, U.S., September 4, 2018. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas/File Photo

Agreed in December 2019, the three-year programme is worth $2.9 billion. Performance under it has been strong, the IMF said.

The reviews, whose timetable the fund did not outline, were “focused on balancing the need to address ongoing challenges created by the pandemic and domestic security” while laying the foundation for growth, IMF Deputy Division Chief Sonali Jain-Chandra said in a statement

The security situation “has created humanitarian and reconstruction needs that require an adjustment of policies and support from the international community,” she added.

The statement made no direct reference to the war that began in November when Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed ordered an offensive against the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), the former ruling party in the northern region, after regional forces attacked federal army bases there.

Abiy declared victory less than a month later but low-level fighting continues.

Tuesday’s agreement is subject to approval by the IMF executive board.

Finance Minister Ahmed Shide and State Minister of Finance Eyob Tekalign Tolina did not respond to requests from Reuters for comment.

The Fund also said it welcomed Ethiopia’s request for “debt treatment under the G20 Common Framework.”

Last month, Ethiopia said it planned to restructure its sovereign debt under the framework, designed to help with economic pressures induced by COVID-19, and was examining all options.

The IMF said that economic growth is projected to be 2% in 2020/21, largely the effects of the pandemic, but it is expected to rebound to 8.7% in 2021/22 in line with a global recovery.

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