IMF Executive Board Approves a US$739 Million Disbursement to Kenya to Address the Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic

Washington: The Executive Board of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) today approved the disbursement of SDR542.8 million (100 percent of quota, about US$739 million) to be drawn under the Rapid Credit Facility (RCF). This will help to meet Kenya’s urgent balance of payments need stemming from the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The impact of COVID-19 on the Kenyan economy will be severe. It will act through both global and domestic channels, and downside risks remain large. While the authorities have taken decisive action to respond to the pandemic’s health and economic impacts, the sudden shock has left Kenya with significant fiscal and external financing needs. Authorities have committed to resume their fiscal consolidation plans once the crisis abates to reduce debt vulnerabilities.

The RCF will help the authorities to address those needs. It will allow them to maintain an adequate level of international reserves and help provide the budget financing needed to respond to the pandemic.

The IMF is in close contact with the Kenyan authorities and stands ready to provide policy advice and further support, as needed.

At the conclusion of the Board discussion, Mr. Tao Zhang, Deputy managing Director and Acting Chair, stated:

“The COVID-19 pandemic has delivered a large economic shock to Kenya. The pandemic has impacted nearly all facets of the economy—particularly tourism, transport, and trade—and led to urgent balance of payments and fiscal financing needs.

“Emergency financing under the RCF will deliver liquidity support to help Kenya cover its balance of payments gap this year. It will provide much-needed resources for fiscal interventions to safeguard public health and support households and firms affected by the crisis. It will also catalyze necessary financing from other donors.

“A pause in the authorities’ fiscal consolidation plans to accommodate COVID-19-related measures is appropriate. These measures should be temporary and well-targeted. Once the crisis abates, it is critical that the authorities resume their pursuit of a growth-friendly medium-term fiscal adjustment, including raising revenues as a share of GDP, to reduce debt vulnerabilities.

“The Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) has taken various measures to maintain sufficient liquidity in the financial sector. It should continue to stand ready to further support the economy and the financial sector’s health, as necessary, while ensuring that policy decisions are data-driven. The CBK should also continue to allow the exchange rate to act as a shock absorber.

“To ensure that COVID-19 related resources are used for their intended purpose, the authorities plan to conduct independent post-crisis auditing of COVID-19 related expenditures and publish the results.”