What Buhari told IMF Chief, Lagarde — Presidency

President Muhammadu Buhari said Tuesday in Abuja that his administration will look inwards, enforce regulations to stop financial leakages and adopt global best practices in generating more revenue to mitigate the effect of dwindling oil prices on the Nigerian economy.

Receiving the Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Ms Christine Lagarde at the Presidential Villa, President Buhari said that his administration will also enforce greater discipline, probity and accountability in all  revenue generating agencies of the Federal Government, the presidency said in a statement.

“We have just come out of budget discussions after many weeks of taking into consideration the many needs of the country, and the down turn of the economy with falling oil prices and the negative economic forecasts,” presidential spokesperson, Femi Adesina, quoted Mr. Buhari as telling Ms. Lagarde.

“We are working very hard and with the budget as our way forward, we will do our best to ensure that our country survives the current economic downturn.

“We have also told all  heads of Ministries, Departments and Agencies of government that on our watch, they will fully account for all funds that get into their coffers.”

The President said the Federal Government was reviewing its operational costs and had directed all the Ministries, Departments and Agencies to cut down on their overhead costs.

President Buhari said the Federal Government will welcome  the technical support and expertise of the IMF for its plans to diversify the Nigerian economy and further unleash its growth potentials.

In her remarks, Ms Lagarde said that the IMF will be willing to assist the Federal Government in plugging revenue leakages, tracing stolen funds and restructuring its tax system.

She said Nigeria had all the potentials to overcome the current economic challenge of falling commodity prices without resorting to the IMF for financial support.

Ms. Lagarde had earlier given insight into what she discussed with Mr. Buhari, saying contrary to widespread perception, she was not in Nigeria to negotiate a loan for the country.
“I am not here to negotiate loan with conditionalities because Nigeria does not need a new IMF programme,” the IMF chief said.

Ms. Lagarde, who addressed a press conference at the State House, Abuja, said she had a fruitful discussion with Mr. Buhari on the state of the Nigerian economy in the light of dwindling oil prices.

She said she also discussed how Nigeria could face the challenges associated with global economic downturn.

She said her meeting with the president also dwelled on Mr. Buhari’s fight against corruption and his commitment to transparency and accountability in governance.

Ms. Lagarde said the IMF considers Nigeria a key player in global financial structure, adding that ongoing reforms in the country would definitely have a great impact on Nigeria’s neighbours.

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