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On Mozambique IMF Speaks on Undisclosed Loans As Inner City Press Asks of Corruption

By Matthew Russell Lee, CJR PFT NY Post

NEW YORK CITY, Nov 13 – When the International Monetary Fund held its biweekly embargoed media briefing on November 7, Inner City Press submitted questions including on Equatorial Guinea, answered below.

Now on November 13, the IMF on Mozambique has issued this: "An International Monetary Fund (IMF) staff team led by Ricardo Velloso visited Maputo during November 6–12, 2019, to take stock of recent economic developments and update macroeconomic projections.  At the end of the mission, Mr. Velloso issued the following statement:  “As a result of Tropical Cyclones Idai and Kenneth, real GDP growth decelerated to 2¼ percent (year-on-year) in the second quarter of 2019, affected by a weak performance in agriculture. Inflation declined to 2¼ percent (year-on-year) in October, from about 5 percent a year earlier, as tight monetary conditions more than offset the supply shock to prices induced by the cyclones. The exchange rate has been broadly stable; and international reserves at the Bank of Mozambique increased to about US$3.9 billion at end-October, covering 6¾ months of next years’ projected non-megaprojects imports.  “The outlook for 2020 is for a strong rebound in economic activity and low inflation. Real GDP growth is projected to reach 5½ percent in 2020, from 2.1 percent projected for 2019, supported by post-cyclones reconstruction efforts, a recovery in agriculture, and economic stimulus from further gradual easing of monetary conditions and clearing of domestic payments arrears to suppliers. Construction and other activities should also be boosted by investments in the liquefied natural gas (LNG) megaprojects. Inflation is projected to remain low, increasing slightly to 5 percent at end-2020, from 3 percent at end-2019.  “Consistent with the advice laid out in the latest Article IV consultation, the mission recommended gradual fiscal consolidation over the medium term, with a view of eliminating the primary fiscal deficit by 2022, while protecting or increasing well-targeted social spending. Financing should continue to rely on external grants and highly concessional loans given the high level of public debt. The mission welcomed the significant progress on clearing domestic payments arrears to suppliers and noted that, despite some progress, additional efforts will be needed to address the VAT refund backlog.  “The mission noted that there is ample room for the Bank of Mozambique to continue easing monetary policy given well-anchored inflation expectations, provided this easing is supported by a prudent fiscal policy stance. It welcomed the Bank of Mozambique’s strong commitment to maintain a flexible exchange rate and safeguard financial sector stability.  “The mission welcomed the authorities’ comprehensive diagnostic of governance and corruption challenges in Mozambique, which was published in August and was supported by IMF technical assistance. It encouraged the Government to implement the reforms under the roadmap outlined in the report.  “The mission welcomed the ongoing efforts by the Attorney-General’s Office to bring accountability to the issue of the previously undisclosed loans, as well as the Government’s initiatives to fight corruption and strengthen transparency." We'll have more on this.

Back on November 7 Inner City Press asked: "On Equatorial Guinea, what is the status (and dollar volume) of the IMF's consideration of a program, and the weighing if at all on the length of time Obiang has been in power? "The loan, the amount of which has not been revealed, is scheduled to be considered by the IMF executive board in December."

 From the IMF's November 7 transcript, with video on page: "There's another question from Matthew, which I'll take on Equatorial Guinea, asking what's the status and the volume of the IMF's consideration of a program for Equatorial Guinea and the weighing, if at all, length of time that President Obiang has been in power. On that, I can say that just recently on October 21st, the Equatorial Guinea authorities and an IMF team reached staff level agreement on a three-year arrangement. Again, under the extended Fund facility, which is the more concessional arm of the IMF's lending. The authorities are working on an agreed set of measures that could allow the new program to be considered by the IMF's Executive Board in December. And Matthew had asked about the volume. We're looking at the program that could be supported by approximately $280 million. So, that's four [sic] Equatorial Guinea.  And anything else in the room?"

On September 26 Spokesperson already then Gerry Rice,  for new Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva, on Turkey said "this is also from Matthew, he has asked ' On Turkey, what is the IMF's response to ruling AKP deputy chair Numan Kurtulmuş criticizing a meeting between IMF & opposition parties, saying Turkey has "closed the topic with the IMF."'

  Then Rice said it is normal to meet with opposition - except in Cameroon, apparently - and that there has been no indication from the Turkish authorities they are looking for a program.

  Here are Inner City Press' other questions to the IMF:

On Somalia, please provide a read out or response to reports that Somali Minister of Finance Abdirahman Duale Beyle met officials from the IMF  Addis Ababa to discuss the fourth phase of the Somali pardon program.

On Sri Lanka, what is the IMF's response to Independent Expert on foreign debt and human rights, Juan Pablo Bohoslavsky, sayins that in Sri Lanka, there are concerns at the significant rise in the value added tax, given that the brunt of such taxes is often borne by the poorest?

More generally, what is the IMF's response to Bohoslavsky saying as to the IMF that "even though austerity can be a useful tool of administration against the squandering of resources, it is essential to keep in mind that austerity impacts the most vulnerable and marginalised"?

On crypto-currency what is the IMF's response to Marshall Islands Minister David Paul saying the country is moving forward with its plans. According to the post, Minister Paul will provide further details about the Marshall Islands’ crypto, the Sovereign, next week at the Invest: Asia 2019 conference?  Within months, the IMF began putting pressure on the Marshall Islands to not forego the U.S. dollar in favor of its own digital currency. The Fund issued a 58-page report in September 2018 and warned against the "potential costs arising from economic, reputational, AML/CFT, and governance risks" associated with the issuance of the Sovereign.

On the DR Congo, what is the IMF's knowledge of, and comment on, that all the big-name advisory banks are laying siege to the presidential palace in the hope of winning the contract to advise the DRC on its relations with the IMF?" Inner City Press also asked, again, for "any updates on Cameroon or Haiti or Yemen." Watch this site.

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