South Africa will approach multilateral lenders such as the International Monetary Fund and World Bank for assistance in fighting the coronavirus pandemic only if the country runs out of money for health interventions, Finance Minister Tito Mboweni said.
“As of today I do not see the need for World Bank or IMF funds, but I am keeping them in my back pocket,” Mboweni said on a call with reporters Sunday evening.
The Sunday Times newspaper reported earlier on Sunday that South Africa may approach the IMF for the first time ever to help with funding to deal with the fallout from the coronavirus outbreak. Officials from African governments had a call with the IMF on Saturday and the lender has put in place a short-term liquidity facility to help countries who have problems accessing foreign exchange, Reserve Bank Governor Lesetja Kganyago said. The World Bank is putting in place facilities to help countries respond on the health side, he said.
While the government would in principle approach the IMF if needed, the first port of call would be the World Bank and New Development Bank, Mboweni said.
On the amount the country may request from the IMF, he said “let’s cross the bridge when we come to the river.”
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