Press Release: Statement by the IMF Mission Chief for Niger

September 6, 2005

The following statement was issued today by Mr. Mbuyamu Matungulu, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) mission chief for Niger, in Niamey:

"The purpose of the visit by the IMF staff was to conduct the first review under Niger's Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility (PRGF) arrangement. The mission also worked with the authorities on adapting their economic policies to the current situation.

"Our assessment at the end of the mission is that Niger's performance under the PRGF—against the background of the food crisis—has been mixed, with some progress made in the structural area but budget implementation much weaker than anticipated. Discussions on the review will continue at a later date.

"The mission discussed with the authorities a revised fiscal program that takes into account the full cost of the efforts to relieve the food crisis. In this context, the staff team repeated that the IMF stands ready to increase its financial assistance to Niger. The mission also discussed with international donors how to identify and mobilize aid to the government.

"Looking to the medium term, the mission, in consultation with World Bank staff, discussed measures to preserve macroeconomic stability and move ahead with the structural reform agenda, including the development of an irrigation infrastructure, all of which are key to addressing Niger's continued vulnerability to adverse weather."

"In recognition of its reform efforts during 2000 - 2005, Niger has received substantial debt relief under the enhanced Heavily Indebted Poor Countries Initiative. This has helped the country make some improvements in the health and education sectors. In January 2005, the IMF Executive Board approved a new PRGF for Niger."


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