Business And Markets

To Fight Coronavirus CBI Seeks $5b IMF Loan

To Fight Coronavirus CBI Seeks $5b IMF Loan
To Fight Coronavirus CBI Seeks $5b IMF Loan

The governor of the Central Bank of Iran said he has asked the International Monetary Fund last week for $5 billion in emergency loans to help the country contain the spreading virus and mitigate its effects on economy.  
In a note on his Instagram account, Abdolnasser Hemmati referred to a statement by the IMF chief earlier in the month, who said the fund would offer $50 billion in loans to countries grappling with the pandemic. 
IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva said the fund made available about $50 billion through its rapid-disbursing emergency financing facilities for low income and emerging market countries that could potentially seek support. 
Of this, $10 billion is available at zero interest for the poorest members through the Rapid Credit Facility, according to a statement released on the IMF website. 
The spreading disease has affected over one-third of its membership directly and it is no longer a regional issue but it is a global problem calling for a global response, it said. 
IMF spokesman Gerry Rice confirmed it had received a loan request from Iran. He said the IMF is “proceeding expeditiously with all requests and in line with our policies”. 
Iran has been hit hard by the infectious disease. The Health Ministry spokesman in Tehran Kianoush Jahanpour said Friday the number of new coronavirus cases reached 11,364 cases and the death toll rose to 514 since the viral outbreak three weeks ago.  
Fears over infectious disease have shuttered many businesses, forced others to work below capacity, order staff to work from home or send workers home on unpaid leave. People in most cities and towns prefer to stay at home following persistent calls by the government and senior health officials to stay indoors. 
The respiratory illness has spread to all 31 provinces of Iran, with the northern and central provinces among the most-affected regions. 
More than 134,500 people have been infected globally and over 4,900 have died, according to a Reuters tally of government announcements.


4-Decade US Hostility 

There are concerns about United States influence on the IMF’s decision in response to the CBI’s request given Washington’s four-decade-old open hostility and grudge against Tehran. 
Iran and the United States have had no formal diplomatic relations since 1980.
While nearly all countries are members of the IMF and have voting powers, the US is the largest shareholder and has an effective veto over decisions. 
Hemmati said “no one should die as result of shortage of financial resources for procuring medical equipment and the like”. 
He expressed the hope that the IMF will uphold its responsibility, noting that the “international community and the IMF’s response to the request could be a good benchmark for weighing their claims about offering assistance for controlling the virus and alleviating the people’s suffering”.   
Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif took to Tweeter Friday, confirming the request was made as soon as the IMF boss Kristalina Georgieva announced the financial package for affected countries.
"Our Central Bank requested access to this facility immediately. IMF/IMF Board should adhere to the Fund's mandate, stand on right side of history & act responsibly," he tweeted. 
Zarif called on the United Nations to lobby the US to remove the sanctions regime, which has hampered its ability to fight the outbreak. 
In a letter to António Guterres, the UN secretary-general, he said the sanctions had created “serious obstacles” in the country’s efforts to import medical equipment and contain the spread of the illness. 
Though food and medical supplies are not directly targeted by the sanctions, the US measures mean Iran is struggling with shrinking foreign revenues and is cut off from the global banking system, making it difficult to import many products.   
US-Iran ties took a turn for the worst after Donald Trump in 2018 withdrew from the nuclear deal that Iran signed with world powers and imposed new economic sanctions. The embattled US president has vowed to continue with his so-called “maximum pressure” policy against Iran until it comes to the negotiating table for a new and comprehensive deal.

Add new comment

Read our comment policy before posting your viewpoints