Amine Mati, a Division Chief in the Africa Department at IMF says that mechanisms have been put in place to ensure that expense of Covid money is tracked. COURTESY PHOTO

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has extended a loan worth $1 billion (about Shs3.5 trillion) to Uganda.

The IMF in a statement issued on Tuesday said the agreement was reached in a virtual IMF visit led by the head of Africa Division Amine Mati in February, March of this year and from May 25-May 28, 2021. It will be a three-year-long program under the Extended Credit Facility.

This means Uganda will receive the loan in three installments, perhaps 330 million dollars per financial year

The staff-level agreement is subject to IMF management approval and Executive Board consideration, which is expected in the coming weeks, Mati said in a statement.

“The IMF-supported program supports the next phase of the COVID-19 response and strengthens the fundamentals of a more inclusive private sector-led growth,” Mati said. “As the pandemic eases, it envisages a return to revenue-based fiscal consolidation while increasing priority social spending, including on COVID-19 vaccines and to protect vulnerable households, and more efficient infrastructure investment.”

Mati warned that strengthening governance and budget transparency will be key to fostering public sector efficiency while preparing the ground for sound management of oil revenues.

Uganda recently signed four agreements with Total, CNOOC and Tanzania geared at the actualization of oil production. Total CEO Patrick Jean Pouyanné said the first oil will be in 2025.

According to the IMF statement, the government committed to strengthening fighting corruption and it will be publishing procurement contracts.

“The authorities’ commitment to strengthen anti-corruption efforts is welcomed and encouraged. Further progress with publishing COVID-19 procurement contracts and providing information on the use of funds to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 is expected in the next few days, in line with the government’s commitments,” Mati said.

Managing public investment appropriately, reducing domestic arrears, as well as strengthening cash management, IMF said will be critical priorities for improving the business climate and attracting private investment.

This is the second loan that Uganda is taking from the IMF since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic. Uganda last year borrowed USD 491.5 million roughly Shs1.7 trillion under the Rapid Credit Facility, a programme that provides access to rapid and concessional financial assistance to low-income countries facing urgent balance of payments needs.

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