IMF said the debt relief will help free up the East African country’s resources for public sector health needs including other emergency spending and help mitigate the balance of payments shock posed by the pandemic.
“Economic growth projections for 2020 have been revised down by 5.3 percentage points to -3.2 percent in 2020. The pandemic has exacerbated preexisting economic challenges and creates significant external financing needs in 2020 and 2021, mainly as a result of lower exports, elevated imports needs, and reduced remittances inflows,” the IMF said in a statement. “The pandemic has also created sizable fiscal financing needs, which will have to be met mainly from external sources.”
Burundi launched a COVID-19 mass screening exercise earlier this month after the new government shifted the country’s policy on the pandemic.
The country had largely remained non-responsive over the pandemic, but the incumbent President Evariste ndayishimiye’s administration has taken a different approach.
Under the theme “I won’t get infected and propagate COVID-19,” the screening exercise was launched in three centers in the north, center and south of Bujumbura.
As of Tuesday, Burundi had reported 322 COVID-19 infections and one death, according to data from the U.S.-based Johns Hopkins University.