Published July 28, 2020
The International Monetary Fund on Monday said it had approved $ 4 . 3 billion in aid to South Africa to help it fight the coronavirus pandemic.
“ The IMF approved $ 4 . 3 billion in emergency financial assistance under the Rapid Financing Instrument (RFI ) to support the authorities ’ efforts in addressing the challenging health situation and severe economic impact of the COVID – 19 shock , ” the Washington – based crisis lender said in a statement .
South Africa is the continent ’ s most – industrialized economy and has the largest number COVID – 19 cases, with more than 445 , 000 detected and 6 , 769 deaths as of Monday , according to the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention .
South African Finance Minister Tito Mboweni in June predicted the economy would shrink 7 . 2 percent in 2020 , its deepest slump in 90 years , and compared the ballooning public debt to a “ hippopotamus… eating our children ’ s inheritance . ”
The South African treasury said the IMF money would go towards stabilizing the debt , creating jobs , helping frontline health workers fighting COVID – 19 and reforming the economy to spur growth .
“ Going forward , our fiscal measures will build on our policy strengths and limit the existing economic vulnerabilities which have been exacerbated by the COVID – 19 pandemic , ” Mboweni said in a statement .
The money from the IMF is the latest disbursement under the RFI , which allows nations to circumvent the lengthy negotiations usually needed to secure a full economic assistance program — time most countries do not have as they struggle to cope with the coronavirus crisis.
IMF deputy managing director Geoffrey Okamoto said “a deep economic recession is unfolding , ” exacerbated by South Africa ’ s slow rates of growth , high unemployment and widening inequality .
The RFI money will help address the country ’ s balance of payment needs “ that emerged as a result of the pandemic and thus contain the economic disruption and its regional spillovers . ”
The money will specifically address “the fiscal pressures posed by the pandemic , limit regional spillovers and catalyze additional financing from other international financial institutions, ” the IMF said .