IMF pledges quick aid if Nigeria sticks to reforms
March 19, 1999
ABUJA, Nigeria (CNN) -- The head of the International Monetary Fund said Friday that Nigeria could get financial help within months -- provided the incoming civilian government continues to implement a program of Democratic reforms.
During a visit to Nigeria, IMF Managing Director Michel Camdessus said that IMF aid could come as early as July if "Nigeria demonstrates that it is fully committed to reform."
Nigeria's president-elect, Olusegun Obasanjo, in turn told Camdessus said that his country needs debt relief to safeguard its return to democracy.
"We don't believe democracy will be sustained with the burden of debt we have now," said Obasanjo, a former general turned businessman.
"My administration will be ready to work with your organization as long as you assist us to achieve our goals and aspirations," Obasanjo told Camdessus.
Nigeria's external debt burden is estimated at more than $30 billion.
Obasanjo also requested help to cope with a budget gap caused by the decline of world market prices for oil, which is Nigeria's main source of income.
An aid program was agreed to in January between the IMF and Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar, who is to hand over power to the civilian government of Obasanjo on May 29, ending years of military rule in Nigeria.
The reforms, initiated by Abubakar, include a program to sell off ailing state companies such as the power and telecommunications utilities and oil refineries.
Reuters contributed to this report.
Nigeria's Obasanjo meets with neighboring leaders
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