Press Release: Statement at the Conclusion an IMF Staff Mission to Niger

March 17, 2009

Press Release No. 09/79
March 17, 2009

An International Monetary Fund (IMF) mission led by Mr. Emilio Sacerdoti, visited Niger during March 13-17, 2009 to conduct discussions for the second review of the authorities’ program supported by the Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility (PRGF) arrangement.

The mission met with the Minister of Economy and Finance, Mr. Ali Mahaman Lamine Zeine, the National Director of the Central Bank of Western African States (BCEAO), Mr. Mahamadou Gado, senior staff members of a number of ministries, as well as representatives of the private sector and civil society, and the donor community.

At the end of the mission, Mr. Emilio Sacerdoti, mission chief for Niger, issued the following statement today in Niamey:

“During the first half of 2008 economic activity has been sustained by the excellent agricultural harvest and the private and public investments in mining petroleum, telecommunications, transportation and roads. Agricultural production increased by 25 percent and, on the basis of provisional data, GDP growth in real terms is estimated at 9.5 percent. Inflation accelerated in the first half of the year, due to the flare up of international prices of petroleum products and foodstuff, but declined in the second half. The investment/GDP ratio reached 26 percent from 24 percent in 2007. The revenue targets were exceeded while budgetary expenditures remained below targets.

“The economic outlook for 2009 remains favourable. Economic activity should be supported by substantial private investment in mining and petroleum and an expansion of public investments in the Kandaji dam, irrigation, roads, and electricity generation, where large needs exist. GDP growth could reach 3 percent, and the investment/GDP ratio could exceed 36 percent. The balance of payments current account deficit is expected to widen, financed by large foreign direct investment in mining and petroleum.

“The mission discussed with the authorities the prospects for 2009. It underscored the importance of carrying priority budgetary expenditures in a timely manner and strengthening budgetary control and procurement as envisaged. The preparation of the budget law for 2010 should be made within a medium-term framework, taking into account the PRSP priorities and the medium term expenditure frameworks under preparation.

“Concerning the fiscal reforms under preparation, the mission has emphasized the need that they improve the investment climate. The mission reviewed initiatives to strengthen the banking sector, including the capital increase under way in the banks, the creation of a postal bank, and the strengthening of microfinance, which is essential for agricultural financing.

“With continued implementation of program policies, and subject to approval by Fund management, it is expected that the IMF’s Executive Board will discuss the second review of the Niger’s program under the PRGF in April/May 2009.

“The mission is grateful to the authorities for their hospitality and frank discussions.”


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