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IMF Says It Will Answer on Yemen After Stabilizes, As Talks of Calm in Bangladesh

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, March 12, updated -- At the International Monetary Fund's biweekly embargoed briefing on February 19,  Inner City Press asked IMF spokesperson Gerry Rice "in Yemen, the World Bank has suspended its programs due to the 'dangerous political and security situation.' What is the status of the IMF's programs, and its estimate of impacts of the Houthi / Hadi stand-off?"

  Rice read out the question then replied, We are monitoring the situation very closely and will be able to say more once it has stabilized just a bit.

  But what if it doesn't stabilize?

 On Bangladesh, by contrast, the IMF's Rodrigo Cubero on March 10 said " the resurgence of unrest in recent months is taking a toll on the economy..  upside risks from unrest-related supply disruptions... Should calm be restored and uncertainty abate, growth should strengthen to 6½ percent in FY16."

 Of this, Inner City Press submitted this question to the IMF:

On Bangladesh, Mr Cubero said “should calm be restored and uncertainty abate, growth should strengthen to 6½ percent in FY16.” Does the IMF believe that the government's crackdown  is the way to restore calm or another approach should be used?

Update: After the briefing, an IMF Spokesperson provided this to Inner City Press on Bangladeshh:

"Our most recent press release summarizes our views on the economy and the near-term outlook – we would not comment beyond that.”

Inner City Press has been told to expect a response to its question about Sri Lanka, but not for some reason to this one on Ghana:

On Ghana and the draft agreement, is there any procedure for civil society organizations to view it before it goes to the IMF Board?  Does the draft agreement contain any provisions on access to information?

 Neither question, nor four submitted a week ago for a briefing postpone by Washington snow, have been answered. Watch this site.

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 Previously, on February 5, Rice answered on the IMF's process in Ghana (and in Mongolia, see below).

  Inner City Press asked "In Ghana, President Mahama on Feb 3 said, 'Ghana is committed to securing an IMF programme and we are confident that we will reach agreement with the IMF by the end of this quarter.' What is the process / status at the IMF?"

  IMF spokesperson Rice said there has been "good progress," and mentioned "cleaning up the payroll" and "medium term reforms," as well as considering the impact of declining oil prices.

 On August 28, 2014 on Ghana Inner City Press had asked “Convention People’s Party chair Samia Nkrumah has said, 'It will be erroneous to accept the fact that IMF conditionalities could not be rejected since in 1965, Ghana, under the First President, Dr Kwame Nkrumah, rejected the proposal of the IMF when they recommended the sale of national assets such as factories in exchange for a loan.' What is the IMF's response?”

  Rice then said that the IMF team will be in Accra in September. Things have moved since then. But what about transparency?

  On February 5 about Mongolia, Inner City Press asked, "what is the process forward on their request for an IMF stand-by arrangement? When will a visit to the country take place?"

  Rice replied, "The IMF has received a request from the Mongolian authorities to begin discussions of possible support to Mongolia. The IMF will be sending a team to Ulaanbaatar soon to initiate these discussions."

 An earlier one not answered on Sri Lanka:

In Sri Lanka on bank consolidation, new Central Bank Governor Arjuna Mahendran has said “I have also asked the IMF to send some technical experts to look at these issues from an international perspective and they have agreed to do so.” Can you confirm that? Would it be in connection with IMF visit at the end of February?

  On Sri Lanka, which was not answered during the IMF briefing, the new government is cutting off payments to Lagarde's predecessor Dominique Strauss Kahn, who once out through the revolving door (of a Manhattan hotel) sold his services to the Rajapaksas. Any comment, or future safeguards, on that?

 After the briefing and expiration of the embargo there was this answer by Gerry Rice of the IMF: "“We have been discussing with the authorities a multi-faceted technical assistance mission on financial sector issues. Looking at financial system stability and supervision in the context of the ongoing consolidation process is one element. We are currently putting together a team to send to Colombo, but will discuss with the CBSL specific needs in the next week so that we can select the best experts and structure the mission. It will likely take place after the staff visit in February, as this is a separate, technical assistance exercise.”


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