By Zayamu Hassan
The Africa Health Budget Network (AHBN) has called African heads of states to transparently and judiciously spend the 24,164.60 billion Special Drawing Rights (SDR), equivalent to US$34.4 billion, given to them by the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
A statement issued by the AHBN in Abuja, also urged them to use the funds to support economic recovery, COVID-19 vaccines equitable access and health security in their various countries.
It would be recalled that in August this year, the IMF announced that its new global allocation of 456.5 billion SDR (equivalent to US$650 billion) will be made to its 190 member countries.
This huge amount being the largest SDR in the IMF’s history is targeted at helping countries recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.
The funds, according to the IMF, will provide additional liquidity to the global economic system – supplementing countries’ foreign exchange reserves and reducing their reliance on more domestic or external debt.
The breakdown of the 456.5 billion SDR, the statement said, showed that the 55 African countries got 24,164.60 billion SDR, while non-African countries got 432,320.7 billion SDR.
A cursory look at the allocation of the 24,164.60 billion SDR for African countries showed that South Africa got the highest SDR at 2,924.40 billion, while São Tomé and Príncipe got the least allocation of 14.2million SDR. Other countries like Liberia received 247.7million, with Nigeria and Sierra Leone getting 2,352.50 billion and 198.8million respectively.
AHBN, therefore, challenged Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) and the media in Africa to engage government agencies, including Ministers of Finance and Governors of Central Banks, to ensure prudent utilization of the US$34.4 billion allocated to countries within the region.
AHBN further charges the CSOs to engage in advocacy and accountability that promotes long-term country needs that foster the rebuilding of economies in African countries, and also promote the participation of CSOs, professional bodies and media in high-level government committees to promote transparent utilization of the SDR.
AHBN further expressed its support to the global call that encourages countries with stronger economies to voluntarily channel their SDRs to the poorest and most vulnerable nations, or channel their SDRs to support lending by multilateral development banks.
The statement quoted the AHBN Coordinator, Dr Aminu Magashi Garba, as saying that: “The US$34.4 billion allocated to African countries can boost the economies of the region if properly and judiciously deployed to critical sectors. These funds can immensely improve the infrastructural deficit in most African countries.
“These huge funds can also help the African region support COVID-19 vaccines equitable access and distribution, strengthen health security and catalyze greater investment in sustainable financing and development.
“AHBN acknowledges that while every country has the right to decide how these funds will be utilized, governments should ensure that those decisions are prudent, well-informed and evidence-based for the wellbeing of Africans.
“All areas that can expose the funds to misappropriation and mismanagement should be blocked to ensure that Africans get value for these huge resources.”