The International Momentary Fund (IMF) has set the condition for Equatorial Guinea’s qualification for new funds, asking the president Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo to declare his assets first before his country can receive any funds.
Equatorial Guinea is facing an economic crisis and desperately needs funds from the IMF to deal with crisis.
last year, the crisis to an all-time low $13 billion. The declaration of assets is part of a program agreed to last week, it also requires the state to be more open in its financial dealings, improve governance and implement reforms to fight corruption.
During a telephone interview, Lisandro Abrego, the lender’s mission chief for Equatorial Guinea, stressed that not only the President will be required to declare his assets but all other top government officials ‘.
“Authorities will implement an asset-declaration regime for senior public officials as part of the program’s requirements, it’s our understanding that the law will apply to all senior government officials”. Lisandro, who was speaking from Washinton went on to blame the collapse of the economy on years of corruption ;
“The economy has also been affected by longstanding governance and corruption problems.”
Audits by the government of state-owned oil and gas companies are already underway and should be completed by mid-2020, Lisandro said. All active oil and gas contracts are expected to be made.
The IMF will also require Equatorial Guinea to join the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, which promotes good governance in the oil and mining industries. The country initially applied in 2008 and has since implemented several reforms to meet the membership requirements. Authorities filed a new application last month, Lisandro said.
The IMF last week gave the green light to a $280 million loan to Equatorial Guinea, $40 million of which has already been dispersed. This has drawn criticism from Human right bodies and Anti-corruption groups, who questioned the IMF’s decision to support “a regime with no previous record of serious reform, also citing the lavish lifestyle of the president’s son.
“With no external pressure, besides the IMF, there’s a risk that the loan will fund the same lifestyle that the oil wealth has upheld for 25 years,” human right researcher Saadoun said by phone from New York.
Obiang, in power since August 1979, and his regime have been accused by prosecutors in the U.S. and France of squandering the tiny Central African’s vast oil wealth. As recently as 2017, Equatorial Guinea was as rich in per-capita terms as its former colonial master Spain. Today, OPEC’s smallest member is struggling to pay its debts after oil prices collapsed in 2014. The government has piled up arrears with construction firms that equate to almost 19% of its gross domestic product, according to the World Bank.