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IMF Confirmed Seeking Somalia Help When Inner City Press Asked Now Says It Has $334M

By Matthew Russell Lee, CJR PFT NY Post

NEW YORK CITY, Feb 26 – When the International Monetary Fund held its biweekly embargoed media briefing on February 13, Inner City Press submitted questions including on Somalia and Bangladesh, and on Egypt, see below.

  IMF spokesperson Gerry Rice read out Inner City Press Somalia question: "In Somalia, it is reported that "Bangladesh has agreed partially pay to the IMF as debt relief for Somalia under the HIPC Initiative. 'Bangladesh's international image would benefit from the grant,' said a finance ministry official... [MD] Georgieva wrote to FM AHM Mustafa Kamal, seeking SDR 0.70 million. " Is this true? Can you explain?"

  Rice explained that the IMF's board had met about Somalia the previous day, February 12, and that it expected further announcements.

And now on February 26, this: "IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva today announced that the International Monetary Fund has secured sufficient financing pledges to allow the Fund to provide comprehensive debt relief to Somalia. Over 100 IMF member countries have pledged to provide more than SDR 242 million (US$334 million) in financing. Once all pledges are formalized, a process will be followed of clearance of arrears to the Fund and new Fund financing that will enable the delivery of HIPC Initiative and other debt relief to Somalia. This will help unlock significant new amounts of development assistance and pave the way for higher and more inclusive growth.  Ms. Georgieva applauded the financing breakthrough, noting, “Today’s financing milestone opens up a historic opportunity for Somalia to move toward comprehensive debt relief from the IMF and the international community. We are firmly committed to supporting Somalia in its recovery after a long period of conflict and devastation.”  The Managing Director offered her thanks to the IMF’s member countries for their generous support, adding, “I also wish to acknowledge the cooperative efforts of our member countries around the world, including many lower-income economies, as well as the strong cooperation from the World Bank, African Development Bank, Paris Club, European Commission, and other development partners, which are critical in this multilateral initiative.”  “This marks a clear recognition by our members for Somalia’s strong and sustained commitment to economic and financial reforms, despite very challenging circumstances. This takes Somalia one step closer to the HIPC Decision Point, which will significantly reduce Somalia’s total debt and enable access to new resources to jumpstart growth and begin reducing poverty,” Ms. Georgieva said."

Earlier on February 13, Rice explained that not only Bangladesh is being asked - thankfully - but also others, to chip in and help. But will the public know which countries paid?

 On Egypt, Inner City Press asked, "   On Egypt, it is reported that the country is in talks with the IMF over a "non-financial structural reform program.. Now that the fiscal and the monetary reform has been done, we’re talking about structural reforms,” Tarek Amer said Tuesday at an energy conference in Cairo. Please elaborate and give the IMF's thinking." Rice said, among other things, that talks continue. Transcript to follow.

On January 30, Inner City Press in connection with thee 9:30 am embargoed briefing submitted questions about Luanda Leaks, Cameroon and some other topics. On Luanda Leaks, Inner City Press asked, " On Luanda Leaks, what have been the IMF's findings and actions given the evidence that has come out in the growing scandal?" This was emailed before 11 am:

    Luanda leaks     We do not comment on ongoing criminal investigations, trials and leaked documents.     Angola has a three-year EFF program with the IMF. As in other IMF programs, the fight against corruption is an important part of the program with Angola. This involves, inter alia, the strengthening of relevant legislation, such as working on an enhanced AML/CFT law, and other laws promoting stronger governance in public institutions. The effort also involves increased public transparency, for instance the timely publication of certified annual accounts by state-owned enterprises and increased use of the government’s electronic platform for procurement.   

Cameroon     The Executive Board has completed the fifth review of the arrangement under the Extended Credit Facility for Cameroon on January 22. For more details I would kindly suggest to consult our press release here

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.

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