The Turkish government has settled a part of Somalia’s debt to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) by allocating nearly $3.5 million to a fund started to relieve the heavy debts of low-income countries, according to an international agreement on Thursday issued in Turkey’s Official Gazette.
Turkey reportedly donated $3,487,000 (nearly TL 30 million), which corresponds to 2,372,189 of special drawing rights (SDRs), to Somalia for the IMF’s Enhanced Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) initiative that was founded earlier in 2020.
SDR is an international reserve asset created by the IMF in 1969 to supplement its member countries’ official reserves. The value of SDR, the IMF’s official unit of exchange, is based on a basket of five currencies—the US dollar, the euro, the Chinese renminbi, the Japanese yen and the British pound sterling. Member countries hold them in the fund in proportion to their shareholdings.
The IMF returned some 11.9 million SDRs to Turkey on March 25 to compensate for the loss of income by the fund’s non-performing interest receivables and the Special Contingency Account.
Turkey granted some 2.3 million SDRs out of that amount to Somalia’s debt relief initiative at the rate of Ankara’s quota share.
Earlier in March, the IMF and the World Bank approved Somalia’s eligibility for debt relief under the HIPC initiative, a move that will allow the country to lower its $5.2 billion in external debt to around $557 million.
The decision came at a critical time when Somalia, a country with a population of 15 million, was grappling with the coronavirus outbreak.
Turkey and Somalia have been in close contact and cooperation since President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan became the first non-African leader to visit Somalia in nearly 20 years, in 2011, when he was prime minister.
Ankara was a major contributor to the aid effort during the country’s catastrophic famine in 2011, and it has continued to provide infrastructural, humanitarian and medical assistance to Somalia since then.
Hours after Turkey’s 2016 abortive putsch, Somalia’s cabinet accepted a request from Erdoğan’s government to shut down two schools and a hospital linked to US-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gülen, whom Ankara accuses, along with members of his faith-based movement, of orchestrating the attempted coup.
The Turkish government also labels the group as a terrorist organization and has arrested or detained nearly 80,000 people while prosecuting more than 511,000 over links to Gülen since 2016, although Gülen and his followers strongly deny any involvement in the coup or any terrorist activity.
Ankara has also dismissed over 150,000 civil servants, including academics, teachers, diplomats, doctors, military personnel and police officers, from state jobs due to alleged links to the Gülen movement as part of a crackdown carried out under the pretext of an anti-coup fight.