Suriname president praises God for IMF decision to renegotiate loan
President of Suriname Chandrikapersad Santokhi addresses the 77th session of the United Nations General Assembly, Wednesday, September 21, 2022 at UN headquarters. (Photo: AP)

PARAMARIBO, Suriname (CMC) — President Chandrikapersad Santokhi says divine intervention played a significant role in the International Monetary Fund (IMF) agreeing to his Administration's request to renegotiate its existing loan agreement with the Washington-based financial institution.

In December last year the IMF announced that it had approved a new 36-month arrangement under the Extended Fund Facility (RFF) for Suriname — an estimated US$688 million.

"We have spoken with the IMF and the IDB [Inter-American Development Bank]. We told them that the programme is hurting us, that relief needs to come. And they agree," said Santokhi who attended the conclusion of a prayer campaign in Independence Square on Sunday.

"I had barely spoken for 10 minutes and the IMF director said 'Yes, we're going to adjust our programme; we're going to have more people-oriented policies, tackle poverty, free up more money.' Where does this power come from? The one after Masra Gado krakti. Gado no libi desert you," he told the ceremony.

The three-day prayer campaign was held by the Pentecostal Church of the Worldwide Missionary Movement Suriname under the theme 'Suriname, back in God's hands'.

Santokhi told the prayer meeting that he starts every day with a prayer and that he asks for "wisdom like Solomon" to lead the country and its people through the crisis.

Last weekend Santokhi, after meeting with IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva, said that the IMF will cooperate with the Government in adjusting the measures to be taken that are part of an agreed economic recovery plan.

"The IMF will continue to support Suriname in implementing its recovery plan. In light of high food and fuel prices, I indicated our flexibility to work with Suriname to adapt the fund programme to help the Surinamese people," Georgieva tweeted after the meeting with Santokhi.

The Suriname Government last week indicated that it would urge the IMF to make changes to the recovery plan as its implementation weighs heavily on the people.

Among other things, the increase in electricity rates by 15 per cent at the beginning of this month is heavy for a large part of society. Suriname's largest trade union federation, C-47, has demanded that the increase be reversed.

During the prayer gathering on Sunday, Santokhi said that with the help of God Suriname will come out of the current crisis, and that the willingness of IMF and IDB to revise the recovery plan and release more funds is the result of hard work, faith and prayer.

Prior to attending the event on Sunday, President Santokhi hosted a multi-faith prayer service in the garden of the presidential palace, where government leaders were called upon to be exemplary so that the people can stand behind them.

"I have come here to pray in public, to put this land back in the hands of our Creator. All I can promise you as president is: I'm going to do my very best," Santokhi said Sunday, adding "We must also humbly ask for forgiveness, but at the same time asking to show us the right way, to take the right measures so that the people can have a good time."

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