Kyrgyzstan receives IMF’s first coronavirus loan

A quarantine checkpoint in Kyrgyzstan. Photo from Turmush

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has extended $120.9 million of loans to Kyrgyzstan to help in the fight against the COVID-19 coronavirus epidemic. Kyrgyzstan has thereby become the first country in the world to receive emergency IMF credit in connection with the virus. The announcement was made on the IMF’s website.

The sum includes $80.6m made available under the IMF’s Rapid Financing Instrument (RFI), and $40.3m under the Rapid Credit Facility (RCF). Overall, the Fund estimates Kyrgyzstan’s balance of payments gap in connection with the epidemic at around $400m, with a high degree of uncertainty surrounding the real figure. The IMF states that the current loan aims to provide a backstop, preserve fiscal space for COVID-19-related health expenditure, and shore up confidence for the Kyrgyz economy, thereby helping to attract financing from other sources.

Besides meeting with IMF representative Tigran Poghosyan yesterday, Kyrgyz president Sooronbay Jeenbekov has held talks with the head of the Asian Development Bank’s office in the country, Candice McDeigan, and the European Union’s ambassador to Kyrgyzstan, Eduard Auer.

According to the latest statistics on 27 March, Kyrgyzstan has 58 confirmed cases of coronavirus. A nationwide emergency has been declared and a strict state of emergency introduced in Bishkek, Osh and Jalal-Abad and three districts in the south of the country. Movement in and out of these areas has been curtailed, public transport and most economic activity brought to a halt, and night-time curfews introduced.