International Monetary Fund (IMF) Managing Director Michael Camdessus told Nigerians last week the fund was ready to offer their country “full support” in designing and implementing a new strategy for economic growth.
He also told delegates at a conference on Nigeria’s economic advancement, held on 18 March in Abuja, what he felt the country needed to do to attain sustainable, high-quality growth, including full participation of all citizens (political forces, the private sector, NGOs, the churches, trade unions) in building a vibrant democracy.
“Democracy and economic progress go well hand in hand,” he said.
Moreover, he said, government needed to provide an environment in which Nigerians could feel confident in saving and investing in their own economy. This, in turn, would enable foreigners to feel safe about investing.
“Within this strategy, I see few core elements: good governance; liberalizing the economy and integrating it with the rest of the world; and indeed macroeconomics stabilisation,” he said.
Nigeria, he added, must place renewed emphasis on transparency and accountability, social equity and respect for the rule of law. “I also support General Obasanjo’s call for an anti-corruption agency,” he said.
The IMF, according to Camdessus, would work with Nigeria to design the more specific policies needed for economic reform: the Fund could give policy advice, design an economic reform programme, provide technical assistance and training to help in strengthening and rebuilding the institutions of government, and provide money to reduce the severity of reform.
He told the international community that as long as Nigeria maintained financial discipline, it would be able to access capital markets and attract new direct foreign investment.
Nigeria is carrying out an IMF Staff Monitored Programme (SMP) “designed to establish a record of policy implementation”.
This programme, Camdessus said, was intended to show the IMF Executive Board that Nigeria was capable of sustaining a certain policy that the international community “must support”.
If performance of the programme was satisfactory, he said, the Fund would be ready to transform it into a multi-year loan which would enable Nigeria to renegotiate its external debt with the Paris Club of nations.
Doubts about President-elect Olusegun Obasanjo’s willingness to continue the programme were brushed aside when he affirmed his commitment to it on Saturday. It was the first time that Obasanjo, who assumes office on 29 May, publicly affirmed his support for the SMP.
This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information: https://shop.un.org/rights-permissions