Inner City Press

In Other Media-eg New Statesman, AJE, FP, Georgia, NYTAzerbaijan, CSM Click here to contact us     .

These reports are usually available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis

Share |   

Follow on TWITTER

Your support means a lot. As little as $5 a month helps keep us going and grants you access to exclusive bonus material on our Patreon page. Click here to become a patron. 

MRL on Patreon

Home -

These reports are usually available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis


(FP Twitterati 100, 2013)

ICP on YouTube

More: InnerCityPro
Sept 24, 2013

UN: Sri Lanka


FOIA Finds  

Google, Asked at UN About Censorship, Moved to Censor the Questioner, Sources Say, Blaming UN - Update - Editorial

Support this work by buying this book

Click on cover for secure site orders

also includes "Toxic Credit in the Global Inner City"




Bank Beat

Freedom of Information

How to Contact Us

IMF on Greek Debt Sustainability As Greece "Leaves the Program Era" and Argentina Enters

By Matthew Russell Lee, Video

UNITED NATIONS, June 29 – The International Monetary Fund on June 29 issued the following about Greece, even as the IMF begins a $50 billion program with Argentina (and continues its questionable relationship with such governments as that of Cameroon under Paul Biya, killing Anglophones, see here and below). The IMF says:  "Greece has come a long way, but still faces many challenges. Greece will exit the program era having largely eliminated macroeconomic imbalances. Some important reforms have been implemented, growth has returned, unemployment is declining (though still very high), and the recently agreed debt relief package will secure medium-term sustainability. But significant crisis legacies and an unfinished reform agenda still hamper faster growth, while membership in the currency union and high primary surplus targets limit policy options.

Boosting growth and living standards will therefore depend on improving the fiscal policy mix, repairing financial sector balance sheets, further liberalizing product and labor markets, and strengthening public sector efficiency and governance. Growth has returned to Greece, helped by an impressive macroeconomic stabilization effort, structural reforms, and a better external environment. Greece deserves credit for substantial fiscal and current account adjustments and for implementing some key structural reforms in recent years. These efforts, combined with substantial European support and a more favorable external environment, allowed a return to growth, with real GDP rising 1.4
percent in 2017 and expected to reach 2 percent this year and 2.4 percent in 2019. As the
output gap closes, unemployment is expected to drop from about 20 percent this year to
around 14 percent by 2023. External and domestic risks are significant, including from
slower trading partner growth, tighter global financial conditions, regional instability, the
domestic political calendar, and reform fatigue.
The debt relief recently agreed with Greece’s European partners has significantly improved debt sustainability over the medium term, but longer-term prospects remain
uncertain. The extension of maturities by 10 years and other debt relief measures, combined
with a large cash buffer, will secure a steady reduction in debt and gross financing needs as a
percent of GDP over the medium term and this should significantly improve the prospects for
Greece to sustain access to market financing over the medium term. Staff is concerned,
however, that this improvement in debt indicators can only be sustained over the long run under what appear to be very ambitious assumptions about GDP growth and Greece’s ability to run large primary fiscal surpluses, suggesting that it could be difficult to sustain market access over the longer run without further debt relief. In this regard, Staff welcomes the undertaking of European partners to provide additional relief if needed, but believe that it is
critically important that any such additional relief be contingent on realistic assumptions, in
particular about Greece’s ability to sustain exceptionally high primary surpluses.
Further efforts are needed to overcome crisis legacies and to boost productivity,
competitiveness, and social inclusion. Macroeconomic imbalances have been largely
eliminated, but high public debt, weak bank and other private sector balance sheets, capital
controls, government arrears, and the large at-risk population weigh on growth prospects, and progress with key fiscal and market reforms has lagged. Greece needs to continue its reform
efforts if it is to achieve sustained high growth and secure competitiveness within the Euro
Area, while also supporting those in greatest need. The authorities’ growth strategy contains
promising elements in this respect, and further assessment of gaps, continuity with current
reforms, and implementation will be crucial.
A growth-friendly rebalancing of the fiscal policy mix is a priority. Achieving the high
3.5 percent of GDP primary surplus target for 2018-2022 agreed with the European
Institutions will require high taxation and will constrain social spending and investment. To
support inclusive growth while meeting fiscal targets, the authorities should aim for budget neutral improvements in the fiscal policy mix, starting with the already legislated fiscal
package for 2019-2020. In 2019, the government should proceed with planned increases in
targeted social support and investment spending, funded by savings in the pension system. In
2020, it should reduce high tax rates, while broadening the personal income tax base in a
fiscally neutral way. These measures, backed by fiscal structural reforms to strengthen
efficiency and implementation, will help reduce the poverty rate and economic distortions,
and support growth. Any delay in these reforms would seriously undermine the credibility of
the assumptions underlying the debt relief measures agreed with European partners. The
authorities should be cautious in adopting permanent expansionary measures beyond those
already legislated, to avoid jeopardizing their fiscal targets.

Reviving banks’ lending capacity, including by tackling very high non-performing
exposures (NPE)s, is critical for supporting the economy. Important legal reforms aimed
at reducing NPEs have been adopted, and steps taken to develop a NPE secondary market,
but further implementation efforts are needed for them to take root. To accelerate banks’
balance sheet clean-up, more ambitious NPE reduction targets, proactive build-up of capital
buffers, further steps to mitigate liquidity and funding risks, and stronger bank internal
governance are needed. Remaining capital controls need to be lifted in a prudent manner
following the agreed roadmap, with the pace dictated by economic and banking sector
conditions and the level of depositor confidence.

Further reforms would boost productivity and labor force participation. Progress with
product market reform has been uneven and slow in some areas, and Greece is still lagging
other European countries in several competitiveness indicators. Earlier labor market reforms contributed to the recovery of employment and competitiveness, but legislation that will reintroduce extensions and favorability of collective agreements beginning later this year risks unwinding these gains. Fund staff strongly urges the authorities not to reverse these reforms. Any minimum wage adjustment should be prudent and in line with productivity
gains, aiming to preserve the momentum of employment recovery and avoid any erosion of
competitiveness. Improved delivery and better targeting of active labor market policies
would help reintegrate the long-term unemployed to the labor market.

Public sector efficiency and governance need to be strengthened further, and the
independence of the statistical authority should be protected. Despite some important
(but uneven) progress, efforts are needed to modernize public institutions, strengthen tax
compliance and the payment culture, and improve licensing procedures, cash management, procurement, and reporting practices. A more effective judiciary is necessary for the success of legal reforms in all areas. Improving governance and the independence of public institutions, including by ensuring adequate protection for officials--such as those in charge of statistical reports--is essential to increase confidence in public finances and ensure data

As it exits the program era, Greece must maintain its forward momentum and continue
to pursue policies that support prosperity and inclusion. Greece has reached this point
thanks to enormous efforts during its adjustment programs. European partners have
demonstrated their support by providing further lending and additional debt relief. Greece
should now consolidate and extend its success by addressing, with determination, its
remaining challenges." 
Amid the worsening crackdown by the army of 36-year Cameroon president Paul Biya in the country's Anglophone areas, today there is a blithe IMF statement, below; in April a video circulated depicting soldiers burning down homes. Click here for one upload of it. Noted by many residents and activists: blue helmet of the type used by UN peacekeepers. On April 30 Inner City Press asked UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres' spokesman Stephane Dujarric about the video, the day after publishing a story about it, in Google News. Dujarric said he hadn't seen the video but militaries should not use UN equipment or colors, presumably when burning civilians homes down. April 30 Q&A video here; transcript below. On May 16, the Governor of Cameroon's North-West Region issued an order "advising" Anglophone residents to remain indoors or relocate for their own safety from May 18 to at least the dubious May 20 "nation day." Two days before it on May 18 the International Monetary Fund issued a blithe statement on Cameroon, ignoring the crackdown and Paul Biya's corruption including long stays in Geneva. The IMF said: "An International Monetary Fund (IMF) team, led by Ms. Corinne Deléchat, visited Yaoundé from April 27 to May 14, 2018 to conduct discussions on the IMF’s Article IV consultation and the second review of the program supported by the Extended Credit Facility (ECF) that was approved in June last year. At the conclusion of this visit, Ms. Deléchat issued the following statement: 'The IMF team reached staff-level agreement with the authorities on economic and financial policies that could support approval of the second review of their three-year program under the ECF. The IMF Executive Board could consider the second review in June-July 2018. The completion of the second review would enable a third disbursement of SDR 55.2 million (about US$78.8 million). Overall economic growth decelerated to 3.2 percent in 2017 due to a steep decline in oil production despite the gradual rebound in international prices. The tense security environment in parts of the country further contributed to the slowdown in economic activity. Inflation remained muted below 1 percent per annum. Fiscal consolidation was implemented at a slower pace than envisaged under the program despite revenue mobilization exceeding the program target, owing to a substantial acceleration of spending at the end of the year.  As a result, the 2017 overall fiscal deficit was substantially higher than targeted under the program. However, good progress continued to be made on structural reforms. The macroeconomic outlook for 2018 remains positive. Growth is expected to pick up and reach up to 4 percent, buoyed by new gas production, construction activities for the 2019 African Cup of Nations, and improved energy supply. Inflation should remain low. The authorities are reprofiling the 2018 budget to account for unanticipated spending due to rising fuel subsidies and higher security outlays. In addition, revenue measures introduced in 2017 together with continued improvements in tax administration should yield higher revenue this year. The revised budget projects a slightly higher deficit at 2.6 percent of GDP compared to the 2.3 percent of GDP initial objective under the program. In addition, the authorities are putting in place needed measures to strengthen expenditure controls and ensure transparent and efficient implementation of the budget, including by strictly limiting exceptional spending procedures and accelerating implementation of national laws transposing key CEMAC Directives on public financial management. Enhanced planning and monitoring of foreign-financed projects’ implementation will help contain the deficit and public debt. Structural reforms should continue to address key obstacles to boosting the private sector’s contribution to growth and employment, notably by improving the business climate, governance, and financial inclusion, while also reducing gender gaps. Reducing fiscal risks is of paramount importance... The team met with Prime Minister Philémon Yang, State Minister of Justice Laurent Esso, Minister Secretary General at the Presidency Ferdinand Ngoh Ngoh, Minister of Finance Louis Paul Motaze, Minister of Economy, Planning, and Regional Development Alamine Ousmane Mey, Minister of Public Works Emmanuel Nganou Djoumessi, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Henri Eyebe Ayissi, Minister of Energy and Water Resources Gaston Eloundou Essomba, Minister of Public Contracts Abba Sadou, BEAC Governor Mahamat Abbas Tolli, BEAC National Director Jean-Marie Mani, and other senior officials. The mission also met Parliamentarians, representatives of the business, diplomatic and donor communities, as well as representatives from trade unions and civil society. The team wishes to thank the Cameroonian authorities for their hospitality, cooperation, and the constructive dialogue.'" UNreal. On May 17, Inner City Press asked Guterres' deputy spokesman Farhan Haq, UN transcript here: Inner City Press: on this right to assemble and protest.  Yesterday, I had asked you about this video in Cameroon of a person being tortured and you said it couldn't be authenticated, but a general statement.  Since the army has identified who the person in the…  depicted in the video is, has Mr. [François Louncény] Fall not issued any comment on it?  And the second one is, now in the run-up to the supposed National Day on 20 May, which many people don't see as the National Day, there's an order from the Governor of Northwest region telling people to leave their towns because the army is coming in and  that's why I'm asking a follow-up to yesterday's question.  Is there anyone in the UN system observing now the ordering of people out of their towns, and how does that impact the right to protest that you've just described?

Deputy Spokesman:  Well, our envoy François Louncény Fall is the person seized of this matter.  If he has any specific comment, I'll let you know about that.  Right now, what I can say about that is, as I had mentioned yesterday, we would be concerned about any use of force against people engaged in exercising their rights to peaceful assembly and peaceful protest.

Inner City Press: Right, but just one more…  And again, I'm saying because there's a press release  by the military of Cameroon, identifying who the person depicted in the video is, so what happens next?  Does DPKO (Department of Peacekeeping Operations) ask Cameroon which unit did it?  What's your investigation of it?  What happens once an army is actually --

Deputy Spokesman:  As I believe I explained to you yesterday, when we receive people from peacekeeping contingents, we vet them thoroughly to make sure that the individuals and their units are not linked to any violations of human rights; and that would be the case with troops coming in from Cameroon." Really? In mid-May, a video emerged depicting Paul Biya's Army torturing a captive, which they say to be Tsobonyi Alphonse Tatia a/k/a "Title Man" or "General," the name used as soldiers whipped his feet, kicked him in the back and stood on his head. Will those giving military support and equipment to Cameroon take note and stop? Will the UN which took Biya's golden statue and in essence covered up the refoulement from Buhari's Nigeria belatedly speak up? On May 16, Inner City Press asked Guterres' deputy spokesman Farhan Haq, video here, UN transcript here: Inner City Press: the Cameroonian Army stepping on a man's head and beating the bottom of his feet, so I'm wondering, it's a pretty widely… in Cameroon, it is seen by many, many people, and given that Mr. [Francois Lounceny] Fall was attempting to, I guess, provide good offices between the anglophone areas and the capitol, maybe you've heard from him, does he have any comment on this video that seems to be… put an end to any belief of dialogue?

Deputy Spokesman:  Well, we continue to hold out the hope that there will be dialogue among the parties.  Mr. Fall has, as you know, in past months reached out to the various participants, trying to see what he can do in that regard.  We have no way of verifying the authenticity of this video.  But we would be disturbed by any signs of torture and, of course, we would urge all parties, including the security forces, to refrain from such acts.

Inner City Press: The ministry… thanks a lot.  The Ministry of Defence put out a press release about the video, and I just wanted to know, in cases where an army is at least initially depicted, unless it's somehow debunked, as being engaged in torture, what does DPKO [Department of Peacekeeping Operations] do to ensure either that it's not using the same units who did it, the same individuals who did it? 

Deputy Spokesman: on the general principle, what we do is that our peacekeeping departments, that is to say the Departments of Peacekeeping Operations and of Field Support, are engaged in making sure that all individuals and all units that are engaged in peacekeeping operations are fully vetted, and so we go through those." On May 9, Inner City Press asked Guterres' spokesman Dujarric about reports that the Biya government is hindering humanitarian aid to fleeing Anglophones. Dujarric... laughed. He laughed at length. Video here. Then he called Inner City Press "self-centered." In between, he issued a typical Guterres canned statement of concern - this from or for an official who took Paul Biya's golden statue and now seeks to handpick which journalists can cover Guterres, or bans the use of Periscope even when UNTV is filming, here. In Yaounde, the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization has sent a new resident representative, to replace outgoing Nigerian UN official Mal Moussa Abari. It is Athman Mravili, a native of the Comoros, whose Twitter feed consists of retweets of his boss, critique of the US administration on North Korea, and various virtue-signaling progressive causes. If he's so progressive, what about Biya's slaughter in the Anglophone zones / Ambazonia?

 We'll have more on this. Biya is locking up journalists; for now what Guterres does is have "his" UN Security hinder the Press, including most recently on May 5 here, Inner City Press which has asked about Cameroon and the statue he took since it happened. Now a Biya military tribunal on April 10 ordered that Akumbom Elvis McCarthy, a news broadcaster for Abakwa FM Radio, a privately owned broadcaster based in the Bamenda region, be remanded in custody for a renewable six-month period while police investigate claims that the journalist aired "secessionist propaganda." So much for free speech and freedom of the press. The Cameroon Journalists’ Trade Union, SNJC in Cameroon has called on Biya to drop all charges against Anglophone journalists Mancho Bibixy and Thomas Awah Junior, both jailed at the Kondengui prison in Yaounde.
The SNJC made the call in Douala on World Press Freedom Day, when Guterres' UN was engaged in censorship, complete with a barely audible video message from traveling Guterres. The two are due back in court on May 8. Mancho Bibixy, a journalist and history teacher was arrested in Bamenda in January 2017 after leading a "coffin revolution" on the streets to protest against the state of roads. Dzenyagha Thomas Awah Junior was also arrested in Bamenda during the same period and transferred to Yaounde for allegedly being in possession of SCNC documents. Ah, freedom of the press, under direct attack in Cameroon and persistently hindered and undermined in the UN of Antonio Guterres and his Global Communicator Alison Smale. They've made their restrictions on Inner City Press pervasive, including requiring minders and blocking access, refusing to answer petitions: call it soft censorship. From the April 30 UN transcript: Inner City Press: a video emerged over the weekend from Cameroon showing or depicting soldiers burning people's homes in the Anglophone areas, and what… what a lot of people focused on is that one of them, at least, is wearing a blue helmet.  I don't think it means the UN is doing it, but I do wonder, what are the rules?  I wanted to ask you, what are the rules if people have served in UN peacekeeping missions… have you seen the video?

Spokesman:  "I haven't seen that particular video, so I can't comment on the particular helmet, whether it was just blue or a UN helmet.  We have seen, in different parts of the world, various security forces and army… we've seen reports of them using equipment that they own, which had been painted white or blue and reused domestically.  It is a responsibility to ensure that no equipment that has UN markings is ever used in any domestic operation.  But, again, I'm not… that's a matter… that's an issue of principle.  I haven't… I can't comment on that specific report." Hours later, still nothing.

  The lack of confidence in the UN in these areas, and on this issue, was inflamed as UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres in October 2017 stopped by Yaounde on his way from the Central African Republic (where the UN pays Biya's government for peacekeepers who have been charged with sexual abuse). Guterres did not meet with any opposition figures, and accepted a golden statue from Biya.

  Guterres' envoy Francois Lounceny Fall has publicly said that secessionist are extremists, the word used by Biya to justify the scorched earth strategy exemplified by the video. Inner City Press asked UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Prince Zaid why his Office hasn't updated the death figures and he claimed it was because the UN has no access.

  Guterres' humanitarian Assistant Secretary General Ursula Mueller visited Cameroon, but not the Anglophone areas. (Inner City Press asked her why, here). Human Rights Watch didn't even include Cameroon in its 2018 “World Report,” and told Inner City Press this is because it does not view it as among the 90 most serious problems in the world.

   Guterres' Deputy Secretary General Amina J. Mohammed as in Abuja in her native Nigeria when 47 Cameroonians were illegally sent back by the Buhari government. Buhari will be in Washington on April 30 and a protest of Ambazonians is planned. Earlier in April, Inner City Press asked the US State Department about the refoulement to Cameroon and received a day later a statement. But what will happen on this video, and on the underlying issues? Watch this site.


Your support means a lot. As little as $5 a month helps keep us going and grants you access to exclusive bonus material on our Patreon page. Click here to become a patron.

Feedback: Editorial [at]

Past (and future?) UN Office: S-303, UN, NY 10017 USA
For now: Box 20047, Dag Hammarskjold Station NY NY 10017

Reporter's mobile (and weekends): 718-716-3540

Other, earlier Inner City Press are listed here, and some are available in the ProQuest service, and now on Lexis-Nexis.

 Copyright 2006-2018 Inner City Press, Inc. To request reprint or other permission, e-contact Editorial [at] for