Some Nigerians have taken to social media to attack the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for not extending to Nigeria, its recent debt relief grants to developing nations. According to the IMF, the grants were meant to help the grantees service the loans they borrowed from IMF given the fact that the near global lockdown has impacted global income.
Well, Nigeria is not owing IMF and so has no debt to service at IMF. Therefore, it does not need the debt relief grant from the IMF. Nigerians must understand that the IMF is one lender out of the many lenders across the globe. Nigeria may be owing other lenders but not the IMF. Perhaps, the Nigerian government needs to publish the list of lenders that Nigeria is owing so Nigerians can take to social media to ask those lenders to follow the example of IMF.
I think the IMF also has a duty to continue to educate the masses on the roles of IMF in their countries to avoid this kind of misconception. For many Nigerians, the IMF is that fat bank that lends money to countries. They are right. Providing Loans to member countries that are experiencing actual or potential balance-of-payments problems is a core responsibility of the IMF. But that’s not the only thing that IMF does. In fact, the very first role of IMF as stated on their website is not provision of loans. It is Surveillance and here is how the IMF describes its work of surveillance:
“In order to maintain stability and prevent crises in the international monetary system, the IMF monitors member country policies as well as national, regional, and global economic and financial developments through a formal system known as surveillance . The IMF provides advice to member countries and promotes policies designed to foster economic stability, reduce vulnerability to economic and financial crises, and raise living standards. It also provides periodic assessments of global prospects in its World Economic Outlook , of financial markets in its Global Financial Stability Report , of public finance developments in its Fiscal Monitor , and of external positions of the largest economies in its External Sector Report , in addition to a series of regional economic outlooks.”
Nigeria is a member of the IMF. While it is not currently owing IMF and for many years has not borrowed from IMF, the IMF also provides other services to Nigeria as a member country. Of course, as a lender of last resort, Nigeria can borrow from IMF if we have to, especially, when no one else would lend to us. That is why the IMF has office in our country.
Member, World Bank-IMF Civil Society Policy Forum Working Group (2017-2020)