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IMF Calls Serbia Talks Constructive, Cites Zimbabwe Assurance, Jamaica GDP

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, April 24 -- While the International Monetary Fund's April 24 briefing was understandably mostly about Ukraine, on which we'll separately report, the IMF's work goes on elsewhere, from Serbia to Pakistan, Jamaica through Nepal to Zimbabwe.

Inner City Press submitted questions on each of these, and the first and last were answered at the briefing by IMF Spokesperson Gerry Rice.

On Serbia, Inner City Press asked the IMF to "please describe the status of reaching an agreement in light of the Prime Minister-Elect has said he will reach an agreement with the IMF 'because the IMF believes in our seriousness.'"

The IMF's Rice answered that the Fund's precautionary standby deal expired in March 2013, and has been followed by a visit and discussions Rice called "constructive." He said the talks will continue after the new government is formed after parliamentary elections.

On Zimbabwe, Inner City Press had asked "given the IMF's staff monitored program and reports the government failed to meet the Fundís target to cap personnel-related budgetary funding, is it the case that the government risks failing to pay its employees in the next few months following a recent 23 percent wage increase amid falling revenues?"

On this, Rice replied that the IMF's staff monitored program does not deal with personnel issues but that the Zimbabwean authorities had told the IMF by dealing with revenue and expenditures they project keeping the balance within the target.

After the briefing, but before the 10:30 am embargo time, another IMF spokesperson answered this Inner City Press question on Jamaica:

Question: In Jamaica, does the IMF agree with Opposition spokesman on Finance Audley Shaw that the government is misleading in using the IMF''s Extended Fund Facility measure of debt, and that the debt / GDP ratio is not 139% but higher? From: Matthew Russell Lee Media Outlet: Inner City Press

IMF Answer: As we said in our latest staff report on Jamaica (, under the Fund-supported program, we focus on a measure that captures central government debt, PetroCaribe debt, and government-guaranteed debt. Our latest estimates (March 2014) indicate that, on this measure, the debt ratio has declined from 147 percent of GDP at end-March 2013 to 139 percent of GDP by end-March 2014.

We appreciate, and directly at embargo time publish, these IMF responses. As noted, we will report separately on Ukraine except for here noting that when asked for analogies to lending to Ukraine today, spokesperson Gerry Rice cited not only Bosnia and Peru but also Sri Lanka, using the adjectives "fragile" and "political tensions." Sri Lanka was the subject of Inner City Press' first question to the IMF, lending there right after what the UN called the bloodbath on the beach. Watch this site.


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