IMF approves $226m to cushion Cameroon during pandemic

Wednesday May 6 2020

A screening centre for Covid-19.

A screening centre for Covid-19 in Kenya.  The IMF on May 4, 2020 approved a disbursement of $226 million to help cushion Cameroon from trade shocks and the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By NDI EUGENE NDI

Yaoundé,

The Executive Board of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on Monday approved a disbursement of $226 million to help cushion Cameroon from trade shocks and the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The outbreak of the coronavirus Covid-19 and the terms of trade shocks from the sharp fall in oil prices have hurt Cameroon’s economy, leading to a historic fall of real GDP growth, the Bretton Woods institution said in a statement on its website.

“Cameroon is facing serious challenges from the twin Covid-19 pandemic and terms of trade shocks,” IMF Deputy Managing Director Mitsuhiro Furusawa said in the statement. “The shocks have given rise to substantial fiscal pressures and an urgent balance of payments need.”

According to the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, Cameroon had 2,104 confirmed cases of the virus, 64 deaths and 953 recoveries by Tuesday morning. It is the highest hit country within the six-member Economic and Monetary Community of Central African States (CEMAC).

Cameroonian authorities last week relaxed restrictive measures earlier imposed to curb spread of the virus, allowing, among others, bars, restaurants and other leisure spots to operate after 6pm. Public transportation was also permitted to operate normally.

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Whiles announcing the relief measures on Thursday, Prime Minister Joseph Dion Ngute said the measures to curb spread of the coronavirus helped the country but also created economic and social hardship in several areas of activity with transport, hotel and catering being among the hardest-hit sectors.

“The actions taken by the government to contain this pandemic are beginning to bear fruits,” Dr Dion Ngute said. “Although screening tests reveal new cases of coronavirus-positive patients, the number of people declared healed of this disease in our country has been on the rise. Furthermore, the mortality rate from this virus remains low.”

The premier announced that schools would reopen on June 1. Earlier, President Paul Biya cancelled this year's public celebrations of Labour Day on May 1 and National Unity Day on May 20.

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