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Hemmati to Georgieva: IMF Neutrality, Not Politics Is of the Essence

Hemmati to Georgieva: IMF Neutrality, Not  Politics Is of the Essence   Hemmati to Georgieva: IMF Neutrality, Not  Politics Is of the Essence

In a virtual meeting with the head of International Monetary Fund on Thursday, the governor of the Central Bank of Iran reminded her that restoring IMF impartiality would be difficult if the international lender denies Tehran’s request for emergency funding to combat the coronavirus.   
Abdolnasser Hemmati asked Kristalina Georgieva   to respect the IMF mandate, adding that Iran has been one of the hardest-hit countries in the MENA region, according to an excerpt of the meeting released on his social media account.  
Hemmati was speaking at an IMF Chair meeting with MENA region governors and finance ministers as part of the IMF spring meetings.
Earlier in March, Iran asked the fund for $5 billion in emergency loans to help finance its efforts to combat the deadly disease and mitigate its economic impact  
While IMF officials have said that they are processing Iran’s request, there are concerns that the fund could deny the call for assistance under US pressure. Donald Trump’s administration has been quoted as saying that it would block the application. 
‘Responsive, Agile, Quick’ 
“We see the IMF as an independent and apolitical international body and hope this continues to be the case…This calls on the IMF to be impartial, responsive, agile and quick to respond to our request” Hemmati told the virtual meeting. 
“Our people demand that the IMF stands with them not with political calculations in responding to our request… If the glass of impartiality shatters, it would be extremely difficult to fix it” he added. 
Iran has reported 88,194 COVID-19 cases since the beginning of the outbreak up until Friday. Total deaths were 5,574 and more than 66,500 people have recovered and discharged from hospital, according health ministry officials. Some restrictions were eased and low risk businesses reopened on April 18. 
As one of the first countries that applied for emergency funding under the Rapid Financing Instrument (RFI) program, Iran has worked with IMF staff to assess the balance of payment (POB) needs arising from the pandemic.
Earlier in the month, Jihad Azour, director of IMF’s Middle East and Central Asia Department said the lender was collecting data from Iran over its request for the loan. 
Hemmati asked Georgieva to bring Iran’s RFI request to the board immediately and let the board decide about it, saying that Iran will count on the support of board members especially those representing MENA countries. 
Humanitarian Dimension  
The senior banker noted that the loan would be  used for addressing the need for humanitarian goods, namely medicine and medical equipment.
“We believe that the humanitarian dimension of this crisis should be our guiding principle. The RFI covers financing food and medical supplies that are urgently needed to save lives and prevent spread of the virus”.
He reiterated that the loan can be channeled directly into the EU’s INSTEX trade vehicle and the SHTA, a financial channel run by the Swiss government to allow food and pharmaceutical companies to send goods to Iran.
“These vehicles are already in place with adequate monitoring and safeguard mechanisms to address any concerns,” he said.  
“Madam Chair, this is a global crisis and the need for global cooperation has never been greater. No country is safe until all countries are safe,” he concluded.
Iran is separately seeking a $50 million loan from the World Bank, marking the first time since 2005 that it has applied for such a loan from the Washington-based institution. 
Highlight: “This is a global crisis and the need for global cooperation has never been greater. No country is safe until all countries are safe” 

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