The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has called on the International Monetary Fund (IMF) as well as World Bank to include Nigeria in the beneficiary list for the COVID-19 related debt relief and debt moratorium.
Ayuba Wabba, NLC President, made the call in a statement on Tuesday, April 14, in Abuja.
According to him, never in living memory has the world faced a twin catastrophe; of both health and also economic proportions as now.
“The novel Coronavirus disease (COVID-19); which has infected close to two million persons; and amassed a death toll of over one hundred thousand precious lives worldwide has also grounded the global economy.
“The result is that many countries are desperately in search of funds to cope with rising health emergencies; especially with regards to the supply of life-supporting medical equipment, wears and drugs.
“Even rich countries in Europe as well as America are struggling to keep up with the supply of essential medical goods and services as COVID-19 bites harder,” he said.
Wabba noted that the response of the IMF in providing debt relief service to 25 poor countries; also could not have come at a better time.
He said the IMF at its Executive Board Meeting held on Monday; announced that the gesture channeled through its revamped Catastrophe Containment and Relief Trust (CCRT) was targeted at addressing the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
He further noted that last week, the World Bank also announced plans to roll out 160 billion US dollars in emergency aid to countries impacted by the Coronavirus; including 14 billion US dollars in debt repayments to governments owed by 76 poor countries.
The NLC President, however, said that the congress commended the goodwill of the IMF and World Bank for the gestures.
He expressed displeasure that Nigeria was excluded from the list of benefitting countries announced by the IMF.
“We call for the inclusion of Nigeria in the beneficiary list for the COVID-19 related debt relief; and debt moratorium based on very cogent reasons.
“First, Nigeria is facing dire economic crisis given the recent plunge in the price of crude oil; Nigeria’s major foreign exchange earner.
“This has already led to the downsizing of the capital expenditure in the 2020 national budget.
“Second, in December 2019, Nigeria’s external debt hit a 16 year high of 27 billion US dollars with a debt servicing commitment of 1.5 billion dollars.
“The fact that Nigeria’s debt servicing is about 5 per cent of our 2020 federal budget; and 75 per cent of our external reserves signpost that our debt servicing pledges are impracticable and should be renegotiated,” Wabba said.