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IMF Tells ICP of Burundi On Hold, Nepal On Ground, Ghana & Jamaica

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, May 14 -- Amid the protests and crackdown after Pierre Nkurunziza was nominated to run for a third term as President in seeming violation of the Arusha Peace Accord, on May 13 General Godefroid Niyombare announced the ouster of Nkurunziza.

  On May 14, Inner City Press has asked the International Monetary Fund's spokesperson Gerry Rice at the IMF biweekly embargoed briefing:

"On Burundi, after the IMF's announcement of $6.9 million in the run up to elections, now with General Godefroid Niyombare saying Pierre Nkurunziza is no longer in power, what is the status of the IMF's funds and program, when will it be reviewed?"

  Rice took this question and replied that the "IMF is following the current developments in Burundi very closely.  The Fund-supported program that was recently approved, it's fair to say that given the current security situation, the timing of our next discussions with the authorities has yet to be determined."

 Tw weeks ago on April 30, the IMF told Inner City Press on Burundi

"Many thanks for your question. Please see our line  below:

'We are continuing to monitor developments in Burundi. Regarding the ECF-supported program that was recently approved, our next meeting with the authorities is tentatively scheduled to take place in June, at which time we will assess progress toward the completion of the 7th review.'"

 So, no more June?

  On May 14 Rice also answered Inner City Press on Nepal, saying an IMF team is "on the ground" and considering all feasible options. Debt relief?

On Ghana, ICP asked "On Ghana, does the IMF have any comment or view on the country upping its monetary policy rate up to 22 percent, and on the decline in value of the cedi? How does this impact the IMF program?"

The IMF responded, after the briefing:

"We welcome Bank of Ghana's commitment to reduce inflation and bring it gradually down to its medium term target, as envisaged under the IMF-supported program. The increase in the policy interest rate decided by Bank of Ghana's monetary policy committee yesterday (May 13) aims at mitigating inflationary pressures, such as those related to the depreciation of the exchange rate, in order to achieve the inflation objective."

On Jamaica, ICP asked "On Jamaica, it is reported that the IMF's “new chief of missions to Jamaica, Uma Ramakrishnan, said yesterday that the missing of the nominal primary surplus target by the country under its Extended Fund Facility is not a big deal.” Can you clarify the IMF's position on the missing of this target?"

 The IMF responded, after the briefing:

Here is our answer on Jamaica:
n  The staff team that was in Jamaica from May 4-12 provided its perspective on this in the press release that was issued on Tuesday.

n  Implementation of Jamaica’s EFF-supported reform program remains strong. All quantitative performance targets through end-March were met, with the exception of the target for the primary surplus of the central government, which was narrowly missed as revenue came in lower than projected in 2014/15.

n  While the target was missed in nominal (Jamaican dollar) terms, the primary surplus is still estimated at 7.5 percent of GDP in 2014/15—the central fiscal anchor of the program.  

n  At the press conference, the team explained that deviations under IMF programs do happen, and it was also noted that one missed performance criterion over eight reviews is still an exceptionally strong performance by IMF standards.

n  The staff team indicated that in its view, the authorities remain well on track to achieve the central goals of their economic reform program, and the team explained that a missed performance criterion can be waived by the IMF’s Executive Board under a standard procedure.  

  A question remains outstanding on Tunisia. Inner City Press has asked, "On Tunisia, it is reported that “Tunisia is under a standby agreement with the IMF for $1.6bn, although not all is yet dispersed because of the delays in reform.” Is that an accurate statement, on delay(s)? What are the next steps?" Watch this site.


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