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Iran resorts to IMF for first time since 1962 due to Covid-19

March 13, 2020 at 12:23 am

People wear masks after deaths from and new cases of the coronavirus are confirmed in Tehran, Iran on 21 February 2020 [Fatemeh Bahrami / Anadolu Agency]

Iran, asked today, Thursday, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for immediate financial assistance to tackle the novel Coronavirus, in conjunction with the authorities’ announcement of 75 new deaths, in the highest daily death toll since the virus began spreading in the country. Thus, the number of casualties officially exceeded 10,000.

A spokesman for the Iranian Ministry of Health, Kyanosh Jahanpur, announced that in total the epidemic caused the death of 429 people in Iran, adding that “during the past 24 hours, 1075 people have been infected with the Convid-19 virus,” raising the “total number of infections to 10,075”.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif tweeted that the Managing Director of the IMF, Kristalina Georgieva, “said that countries affected by the covid-19 epidemic would be supported via a Rapid Financing Instrument (RFI) employed by the organization.

Zarif added: “The Central Bank of Iran requested immediate access to this financing mechanism.” Iran has not received help from the IMF since it obtained a support loan between 1960 and 1962, according to IMF data.

READ: Iran seeks $5bn emergency funding as 10,000 coronavirus cases detected

“The International Monetary Fund’s board of directors should abide by the mandate of the fund (…) and act responsibly,” Zarif noted.

The board of directors of the IMF is supposed to approve the loans that the committee can grant, and practically no decision can be taken without the US’s approval.

Washington is currently practicing a policy of “maximum pressure” that aims to drain the financial resources of the Iranian state. As such, US President Donald Trump has shown no intention to back away from this endeavour.

Coronavirus is affecting the whole world, will it unite us - Cartoon [Sabaaneh/MiddleEastMonitor]

Coronavirus is affecting the whole world, will it unite us? – Cartoon [Sabaaneh/MiddleEastMonitor]

In a post on Instagram published by the governor of the Iranian Central Bank, Abdul Nasser Hamti, and re-published by the Islamic Republic News Agency IRNA, he confirmed that he had formally requested, through a letter sent on 6 March, to provide access to the Rapid Financing Instrument.

Hamti confirmed that “given the widespread outbreak of the new corona virus in our country and the need to continue to take strong measures to prevent and recover (from this disease) and to counter its economic repercussions,” Iran is requesting an aid worth “approximately $ 5 billion” from the IMF. Hamti did not publish a copy of the letter he said he had sent to the IMF.

According to the IMF website, the RFI provides “rapid financial assistance to all state members that have an urgent need for a balance of payments.”

READ: Pompeo calls for Iran to release US prisoners over coronavirus concerns

“During the past 24 hours, 1075 people have been infected with Covid19… which brings the total number of infections to 10075,” declared Jahanpur, in a televised press conference this afternoon.

He added that “75 people have been hospitalized in the past few days, and today the total number of those who have left us has reached 429.”

The spread of the virus in Iran is among the deadliest outbreaks that took place outside of the country from which the disease originated.

Iran announced the first death case in Qom city on 19 February. The quarantine was not formally imposed while the authorities repeatedly called on residents to refrain from travelling.