Fumbuka Ng’Wanakilala & Eric Martin
The International Monetary Fund approved nearly US$600 million in emergency lending for Tanzania’s health system and economic-recovery efforts as the nation battles the COVID-19 pandemic.
The fund’s executive board approved a total of US$567 million in funds – US$189 million under the Rapid Credit Facility and US$378 million under the Rapid Financing Instrument. The resources will help pay for the nation’s “urgent balance of payment needs” stemming from the virus, the IMF said.
“The COVID-19 outbreak has led to the collapse of the tourism sector and amplified the need for significant financing,” the Washington-based IMF said in a statement late Tuesday.
The IMF said that the funds should also help spur support for the nation from other development partners. Tanzania plans to borrow almost 10.8 trillion shillings (US$4.7 billion), about half of which the authorities seek to raise from external sources. The money is needed to help fund the nation’s 2021-22 budget that seeks to more than double the annual growth rate to an estimated 5.7 percent this year.
The funding announcement follows talks between the IMF and Tanzania, with the government committing to resume publishing data on the spread of Covid-19 in order to determine the outbreak’s severity and an appropriate response. The authorities had stopped releasing the data after former President John Magufuli downplayed the disease before he died earlier this year.
His successor, President Samia Suluhu Hassan, has since reversed Dr Magufuli’s Covid-19 policies and launched a nationwide vaccination campaign. Still, the release of data is inconsistent – the government last published COVID-19 statistics in July, when it reported 858 cases and 29 deaths.The economic impact from the virus last year caused about one million people in Tanzania to fall into poverty. – Bloomberg