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Spring Meetings of April 2020: Alamine Ousmane Mey carries the voice of the Continent

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En sa qualité de Président du Groupe Consultatif Africain (GCA) du Fonds Monétaire International (FMI) et du Groupe de la Banque mondiale, le Ministre camerounais de l’Economie appelle les dirigeants de ces deux institutions à soutenir les efforts déployés par les Etats africains pour faire face à la pandémie du Covid-19. Il s’est exprimé à travers une déclaration adressée à la Directrice Générale du FMI et au Président du Groupe de la Banque Mondiale.

Like everywhere else in the world, the African continent is facing the public health emergency caused by the Covid-19 pandemic and its economic and financial repercussions. At the same time, the continent must continue its development program beyond this crisis, the gravity of which is established. This situation requires close monitoring and requires substantial support. It was in this context that the Spring Meetings of the Bretton Woods institutions focused through a videoconference opened on April 13, 2020 in Washington DC and focused on the Covid-19 pandemic.

During these meetings, the Cameroonian Minister of the Economy, in his capacity as Chairman of the African Consultative Groups (ACG) of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank Group, was responsible to bring to the attention of these two institutions, the concerns and the common priorities of all Africa. Alamine Ousmane Mey has requested significant support from these two institutions to enable African states to achieve positive results in the fight against this pandemic.

These include: (i) strengthening health systems and coping with the impact of COVID-19; (ii) respond to vulnerability factors linked to debt and financing needs; (iii) strengthen the mobilization of domestic resources and control illicit financial flows; (iv) Promote the development of the private sector in Africa; and (v) accelerate job creation and economic transformation. For the President of the GCA, Alamine Ousmane Mey, we must act without waiting, by pooling efforts. It calls on the IMF and the World Bank Group to quickly implement the emergency financing reforms adopted, streamline the conditions for obtaining rapid assistance, simplify and speed up disbursement procedures.

 

Furthermore, faced with the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic on the debt and the uncertainty as to the magnitude of the negative effects of this pandemic, he called for the cancellation of the debt of the African countries and invited the leaders of the countries. G20 members as well as other creditors, to allow African countries to suspend all repayments on account of bilateral public debt in order to free up budgetary space to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Chairman of the GCA also invited the IMF and the World Bank to carefully define the new policy on borrowing ceilings as well as the detailed modalities of the policy for financing sustainable development in order to avoid unduly penalizing the countries which will have most need of external financial assistance to recover from the effects of the pandemic.

In addition, in a context of varied socio-economic situations, the World Bank and the IMF should set up financial assistance and technical assistance programs more adapted to the situation of each country, in order to promote growth and strengthen resilience to shocks.By noting the heavy budgetary pressures that African countries will face and the impacts to be managed in the aftermath of the COVID-19 crisis, the Chairman of the GCA notes that public sector levers will remain insufficient to resolve these problems.

This makes the role of the private sector even more imperative, particularly in the fields of tourism, agro-industry and commercial agriculture, light industry such as textiles and clothing, and petrochemicals .It is with this in mind that the African advisory groups intend to continue discussions with the World Bank and the International Finance Corporation to, among other things, draw on the advantages that the continent offers to promote projects that bring about profound transformations, and to remedy the lack of financially viable projects.

It will also aim to direct the action of the Bretton Woods partners towards eliminating obstacles to the structural transformation of the continent, through a well-thought-out strategic framework for the promotion of jobs and economic transformation.