South Africa may approach the IMF for "health funding" -Mboweni

JOHANNESBURG, March 29 (Reuters) – South Africa may approach the International Monetary Fund and World Bank for funding to fight the coronavirus that threatens to drag the country’s economy deeper into recession, Finance Minister Tito Mboweni said in the Sunday Times newspaper.

“This morning in a conversation with the (central) Reserve Bank and the Treasury I indicated that we should proceed and speak to the IMF and the World Bank about any facility that we can access for health purposes,” Mboweni said in an interview with the weekly newspaper.

South Africa entered a 21-day lockdown on Friday, with people restricted to their homes and most businesses shuttered. The country has reported 1,187 cases of coronavirus and now almost certainly faces a deep recession.

On Friday, the country lost its last investment-grade credit rating when Moody’s downgraded South Africa to junk, citing persistently weak growth, fast-rising debt and the impact of an unreliable electricity supply.

“We take no ideological position in approaching the IMF and World Bank. They are creating facilities for this environment and SA should also take advantage of those facilities in order to relieve pressure on the fiscus,” Mboweni said in the interview. (Reporting by Mfuneko Toyana; Editing by Catherine Evans)

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