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IMF Ignores Press Qs on Chad, Sri Lanka & Mozambique, Calls Out Jeane Afrique, Trump Echo

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, January 12 – When the International Monetary Fund's spokesman Gerry Rice held a on- and off-line press briefing on January 12, the first one in more than a month, Inner City Press submitted questions about Chad, Sri Lanka, Mozambique and structural adjustment, as well as asking for updates on South Sudan, Yemen and Burundi: there were none.

   Instead, Rice used one of the few online questions he took to declare the questioner, Jeane Afrique, to have been “wrong” in its reporting that the IMF favors a devaluation of the CFA.

  Some wondered how this differed from US President Elect Donald Trump declaring CNN to be “fake news” -- especially since unlike Jim Acosta of CNN, Jeane Afrique was not in the room to ask or try to ask any follow-up questions.

   (Jeane Afrique has also reported that Trump may tap Peter Pham as Assistant Secretary of State for Africa - we'll see.)

   But other than the slap-down of JA, the IMF did not answer questions on Chad or Mozambique. Inner City Press has asked:

In Mozambique it has been suggested that the government could simply not recognize the guarantees for the $2 billion “secret” debt that would be enough  to “reduce the total foreign debt enough to allow negotiation with the IMF.” What is the IMF's response?

“MF-led structural adjustment reforms increase protest risks in Chad” - what is the IMF's response?

In Sri Lanka,  weeks after the IMF indicated the country's foreign reserves were below comfortable levels the government now plans to try to raise $1.5 billion through a domestic bond sale. Does the IMF think this is a good move?

On IMF conditions reducing health care spending, the Universities of Cambridge, Oxford and the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine “found that for every additional IMF condition that is 'binding' - i.e. failure to implement means automatic loan suspension - government health expenditure per capita in the region is reduced by around 0.25%.” What is the IMF's response?

Well, what is it?  Rice on January 12 said the IMF's Cyprus resident representative is at the UN's Geneva talks, and previewed a presentation by David Lipton on "Africa," and a trip there by Christine Lagarde, including to the Central African Republic, locus of French impunity. Watch this site.

When the International Monetary Fund held its biweekly briefing on December 8, Inner City Press submitted a number of questions, including this one about Guinea Bissau:

"On Guinea-Bissau, by when does the IMF expect authorities to entirely unwind the bailouts of Banco da Africa Ocidental and Banco da União?"

  Not at the briefing, but ten hours later, an IMF spokesperson provided this answer, which we publish in full:

"The question of the legality of the bailout contracts is currently with the courts in Guinea-Bissau and there is no deadline by which the courts have to pronounce their verdict. IMF staff are monitoring these developments. As such, at this stage it would be speculative for us to make any statements about the estimated timing for the complete unwinding of the bailouts. Overall, IMF staff welcome the authorities’ resolute stance in unwinding the bank bailouts. Following through on all steps until the bailouts are irreversibly unwound will be important to safeguard public finance. To strengthen the banking sector, it will also be necessary to implement remedial actions that are being elaborated through regional banking supervision and to enforce existing prudential norms.’"


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