afrol News, 27 August - The International Monetary Fund (IMF) yesterday announced its review of Niger's economy. Growth was high and the government was doing anything possible to create a positive environment. The IMF at the same time approved the disbursement of about US$ 11 million under Niger's Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility (PRGF) arrangement.
Eduardo Aninat, Acting Chairman of the IMF, in a statement said: "After two years of recession, Niger's economic activity rebounded markedly in 2001 as a result of a record cereals crop favoured by good climatic conditions. Economic growth reached 7.6 percent of GDP, and the external current account deficit was contained at 7.5 percent of GDP. The rate of inflation declined to 3.2 percent, on a year-end basis, and the fiscal deficit, excluding grants and externally financed capital expenditure, was slightly lower than programmed, reaching 3.4 percent of GDP."
Ainat therefore concluded that overall performance under the program had been "broadly satisfactory in 2001, and the authorities took strong actions to keep the program on track at end-March 2002 and to correct for a budgetary slippage that occurred in the last quarter of 2001." Most of the performance criteria and benchmarks had been met and in those areas where there were small deviations from program conditions, corrective measures had been taken.
- The authorities have achieved commendable success in implementing the special program for poverty reduction, Aninat said. "The authorities intend to build on these achievements and fully integrate this program in their poverty reduction strategy articulated via a broad and participatory process."
The authorities' revised economic and financial program for 2002 had preserved the main objectives of the original program and continued to be based on the authorities' poverty reduction strategy, while taking into account a shortfall of external budgetary assistance and new expenditure pressures on the budget.
- The conduct of prudent financial policies and the implementation of a cautious external debt policy remain pillars of the program, together with the strengthening of Niger's institutional capacity and the setting up of an enabling environment for faster economic growth and development, Aninat said.
- The authorities have adopted a result-oriented approach in implementing their structural reform program, following some delays in early 2002, he added.
Before end-2002, the government intends to implement a new public accounting and budget nomenclature system, complete the preparation of the financial restructuring of the National Postal and Savings Office, establish an operational multisectoral regulatory agency, privatise the electricity company, and decide on the future of two banks under temporary management by the central bank.