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IMF Tells ICP "No Time Line" on Yemen or Burundi, Is Nepal "Qualified"?

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, May 28, updated -- On the day Yemen talks were supposed to resume in Geneva, but were canceled by the UN, Inner City Press asked the International Monetary Fund for the status of its program.
  IMF spokesperson William Murray read out the question -- "on Yemen, given the cancellation or postponement of the talks that had been scheduled to begin today (May 28) in Geneva, what is the status of the IMF's program and any review of it?" -- then read out a response:

"I’ve got 2 separate questions from Matthew Lee, of Inner City Press. Matthew’s question on Yemen, given the cancellation of talks, what’s the status of the IMF’s program?

A: In the context of Yemen and the IMF, the sit is still under review and being closely monitored. We don’t have a time line yet established for any active resumption of discussions over completion of the review of the existing Yemen program. The program is still in place but we’re monitoring developments in Yemen. Come back to us as time goes on. "

 But in place with whom? Hadi in exile? The Houthis?

  Likewise on Burundi, Inner City Press asked Murray about the status of the IMF's "pre-election" program, now that the legislative elections have been briefly delayed, and questions loom over the presidential elections (the UN Security Council "penholder," France, told Inner City Press on May 27 that the conditions for elections are not met).

  Murray, citing the "current security situation," said

"Well, another situation under review, but let me give you our current view on Burundi. Of course the background is well known, current developments. We are following those developments closely, regarding the extended credit facility, that’s the facility that has been in place for some time. The program was recently approved and it’s fair to say that given current security, and political issues, the timing of our next discussion with the authorities is yet to be determined. We shall continue to monitor the situation in Burundi and if possible, will determine that at a later stage, when to set the time for a second review of the credit facility."

  On Nepal, on which Inner City Press asked the IMF again about any debt relief or use of new facilities, Murray said:

"Just to give you a quick status report on Nepal, we had a mission on the ground, they’ve done an initial assessment. It’s not final yet. They will be going back to Kathmandu to complete some analytics because there was another very very severe earthquake. There is a plan for a donors meeting in late June, June 25 I believe, a lot of that analysis which we’re also doing on the macro economic front with the World Bank and other multilateral institutions, that will all feed into the June 25 donors conference, at which point I would expect a very active strategy for Nepal to surface. Right off the top, we have a rapid credit facility that Nepal could certainly have access to, which is one option. In terms of debt relief, that is pending further analysis. As you know we’ve had some reforms in our credit facilities that have certain conditions attached to how a country can qualify for debt relief. It’s unclear at this juncture whether Nepal does or not, but certainly it’s under review."

 We'll have more on this.

   Back on May 14, Inner City Press asked IMF spokesperson Gerry Rice:

"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.  


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