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IMF Program in CAR "Off Track," GDP Down 20%, Lagarde to Africa, Not Bangui

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, December 12 -- When the International Monetary Fund began its embargoed media briefing on Thursday morning, the first announcement was that Managing Director Christine Lagarde will be going to Africa in January.

Inner City Press asked, "on Central African Republic, is there anything the IMF is doing or planning to do? Will Managing Director Lagarde be visiting Bangui?"

  IMF spokesperson Gerry Rice answered that there are no plans for Lagarde to visit Bangui (and presumably anywhere else in the CAR), but he had an answer ready.

  The IMF's program with CAR is "off track... the first review could not be completed." Rice said that the country's GDP will contract 20% in 2013. He said that political stability and security are needed as a first step, a coordinated response from the international community.

  Coordinated, it seems, by France. Already President Francois Hollande has suggested moving up the elections from 2015 to the second half of 2014. He visited Bangui; World Bank president Jim Kim along with the UN's Ban Ki-moon recently visited Bamako and other Sahel capitals.

  Here was another Africa question submitted by Inner City Press, and a Saudi Arabia question with an Africa / Ethiopia angle:

On Sudan, what is the IMF's view of Netherlands offering 150 million Euros in debt relief, and of the new cabinet recently unveiled? Will Managing Director Lagarde be visiting Khartoum?

On Saudi Arabia, deputy managing director Min Zhu is quoted about job creation for Saudi citizens. Any IMF comment on the Saudis' mass deportation of foreign workers for example from Ethiopia?

  In the forty minutes of Q&A, those in the room in Washington asked about Greece, Ireland, Ukraine (the IMF's Executive Board will hold an Article 4 meeting on December 16) and, online, a question about Pakistan.

  So how will the information about Lagarde Africa trip be announced. And where WILL Lagarde go in Africa? Rice said he'll have more on this soon. Watch this site.


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