The Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Christine Lagarde, on Tuesday said that she did not come to Nigeria to negotiate loans, but to review the country’s economy and its impact on the neighbouring countries.
Lagarde, who made the clarification while briefing journalists at the State House, shortly after a closed door meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, added that Nigeria’s economy does not need an IMF programme assistance.
She said, “Let me be very clear: I’m not here nor is my team here to negotiate a loan with conditionalities, we’re not programming negotiations.
“Frankly, given the determination and resilience displayed by the presidency and his team, I don’t see why an IMF programme is going to be needed.
Speaking on the closed door meeting with president Buhari, she said “We discussed the challenges ahead, stemming from the oil price reduction, the necessity to apply fiscal discipline and the need to respond to the population needs.”
She noted that this could be done by “addressing the medium term necessity of improving competitiveness of Nigeria and yet focusing on the short term fiscal situation, which requires that revenue sources be identified in order to compensate the shortfall resulting by the oil price decline”.
According to her, “oil is not the major contributor to Nigeria’s GDP; its only about 14 per cent” restating the fact that “it is a big source of revenue for the government”.
Lagarde, however, refused to comment on the 2016 Appropriation Bill submitted to the National Assembly by Buhari.
The IMF chief said a team of economists are expected in Nigeria next week to address the country economic challenges.
“A team of economists is going to come here (Nigeria) next week to review and audit (the Bill) and have a good discussion with the government authorities to really assess whether the financing is in place, whether the debt is sustainable, whether the borrowing costs are sensible and what strategy must be put in place in order to address challenges going forward”, she said.
Lagarde’s four-day visit to the country will also see her hold talks with the central bank governor and business leaders.