IMF approves $370 mn pandemic loan for Afghanistan
The IMF on Friday approved a 42-month, $370 million loan program for conflict-ravaged Afghanistan as it tries to deal with the coronavirus pandemic.
The loan aims to help stabilize the country's economy, shore up its Covid-19 response and catalyze donor support, the IMF said in a statement.
The government's economic program was set back by the pandemic, but Kabul has put in place policies to return to growth and reduce poverty, IMF Deputy Managing Director Mitsuhiro Furusawa said in a statement.
However, "Should downside risks, including from the pandemic and the security situation, materialize, the recovery could falter and financing needs increase," Furusawa said.
Under the Extended Credit Facility (ECF) the government will receive $115 million immediately, with the rest coming in installments following semi-annual reviews of performance criteria covering economic policy and anti-corruption efforts, the IMF said in a statement.
The fund projects the Afghan economy will contract by 5 percent this year and rebound by 4 percent in 2021, but noted that "Sustained donor support, steadfast reform implementation, and progress with combatting corruption will be critical" to the program's success.