Lao People's Democratic Republic and the IMF

News Brief: IMF Completes First Review of Lao P.D.R.'s PRGF Program and Approves US$5.6 Million Credit

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Lao People's Democratic Republic—Letter of Intent

Vientiane, February 7, 2002

The following item is a Letter of Intent of the government of Azerbaijan, which describes the policies that Azerbaijan intends to implement in the context of its request for financial support from the IMF. The document, which is the property of Azerbaijan, is being made available on the IMF website by agreement with the member as a service to users of the IMF website.

Use the free Adobe Acrobat Reader to view the Tables (389 kb PDF file)

Mr. Horst Köhler
Managing Director
International Monetary Fund
700 19th Street
Washington, D.C. 20431

Dear Mr. Köhler,

On April 25, 2001, the Executive Board of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) approved a three-year arrangement for the Lao People's Democratic Republic (Lao P.D.R.) under the Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility (PRGF). The purpose of this letter is to inform you on the progress achieved in implementing the first-year economic program, and to request the second disbursement following the completion of the first review under the arrangement.

The attached Memorandum on Economic and Financial Policies (MEFP) supplements the MEFP of March 26, 2001, and sets out the government's objectives and policies to be implemented in the year through September 2002 to build on the progress achieved, and help increase economic growth and further reduce poverty. On the basis of the generally satisfactory performance under the PRGF-supported program in 2001 we request the completion of the first review under the arrangement, waivers for the nonobservance of three quantitative performance criteria for end-June and one structural performance criterion for end-September, and modification of one structural performance criterion for end-March 2002.

The government believes that the policies and measures set forth in the MEFP are adequate to achieve the objectives of the reform program supported by the PRGF arrangement, but will take further measures if deemed necessary. During the remaining period of the arrangement, the Lao P.D.R. will continue to consult with the Managing Director on the adoption of measures that may be appropriate, at the initiative of the government or whenever the Managing Director requests such a consultation. The government will continue to provide the IMF with such information as it requires to assess the Lao P.D.R.'s progress in implementing the economic and financial policies under the program.

The government intends to make these understandings public and authorizes the IMF to publish this letter and the attached memorandum, including through the IMF's external website. A decision on the publication of the staff report will be made by the time of the Executive Board meeting.

We can assure you that the government of the Lao P.D.R. is determined to fully implement the program, and we hope we can count on the continued support of the IMF in our endeavors.

Sincerely yours,

Soukanh Mahalath
Minister of Finance
Ministry of Finance
Phouphet Khamphounvong
Acting Governor
Bank of the Lao P.D.R.


Supplementary Memorandum on Economic and Financial Policies of the Government of the Lao People's Democratic Republic

February 7, 2002

I.  Introduction

1.  The Government of the Lao People's Democratic Republic's plan of economic reform and poverty reduction is being supported by a three-year arrangement under the Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility (PRGF). Consistent with the goals set out in our Memorandum on Economic and Financial Policies (MEFP) dated March 26, 2001, this supplementary memorandum reviews the implementation in the first program year 2001 and sets out our policies for the fiscal year ending September 2002.

II.  Performance Under the Program

2.  Despite the slowdown in the regional economies during 2001, the performance of the Lao economy was satisfactory. For 2000/01, the Government estimates real GDP growth to have been as planned, at 6.4 percent.1 However, the IMF staff estimate a lower growth rate of about 5.2 percent for the calendar year 2001, because of slower export growth and the weaker external environment. Inflation has remained subdued, in line with the program, at about 7.5 percent at end-2001 despite the depreciation of the kip.

3.  While macroeconomic outcomes have generally been in line with the program, fiscal slippage emerged because of implementation problems with the decentralization initiative, administrative weaknesses, and slower growth from the downturn in the external environment. Total revenue for 2000/01 was 13.5 percent of GDP, compared to 13.9 percent of GDP under the program, with weaker performance in direct and turnover taxes and import duties. Although current expenditures were restrained in response to the revenue shortfall, this was offset by extra investment spending of provinces taking advantage of the decentralization initiative. With lower than expected assets sales and sales of government securities, domestic bank financing of the budget was KN 150 billion more than targeted in June 2001. This underperformance in bank financing continued through September 2001, widening to KN 246 billion, 1.7 percent of GDP. Since then, significant actions were taken to strengthen the fiscal position, including through quick tax audits and tighter controls on expenditures and government bank accounts.

4.  Monetary policy has been successful at reducing inflation. Despite the large amount of financing for the budget, the BOL limited the excessive increase in the net domestic assets of the BOL (NDABOL) to KN 46 billion as of June 2001, only one third of the fiscal slippage. In the September quarter, the BOL issued additional securities to further limit the monetary impact of the budget slippage, in advance of more sustained fiscal measures.

5.  State commercial bank (SCB) credit growth was in line with the program through June 2001. Subsequently, SCB credit increased substantially, by $24 million, on account of the loan for the Lao Brewery share purchase. These shares were resold to a foreign investor in January 2002 and the loan will be repaid shortly thereafter. Excluding this loan, the increase in credit of the SCBs, as measured by their net domestic assets, was only 1.7 percent in the year to December 2001.

6.  The underlying change in net international reserves (NIR) has been consistent with the program. However, for technical reasons the base level of NIR in the program was overstated by about $12 million due to the inclusion of funds which are not freely available; thus the June 2001 level of reserves was about $11 million below the target. At end-December 2001 reserve coverage was 2.4 months of imports.

7.  Progress has been generally steady on structural reforms:

  • The main elements of the individual SCB restructuring plans were developed and approved by the government. Though there was some delay, the external audits were undertaken and the final report is expected by February.

  • Key state-owned enterprises' (SOEs) prices have continued to be adjusted towards cost recovery levels, in particular for electricity (3–3½ percent per month) and airline tariffs (by 20 percent in July, 2001).

  • The government has made progress in discussions with the World Bank on a comprehensive approach to improving financial management covering public expenditure, SOEs, and SCBs, the latter with technical assistance from the AsDB.

  • The government has extended the removal of quantitative restrictions on items currently liberalized under AFTA to a multilateral basis, except for a few specified products.

III.  Macroeconomic Framework and Policies October 2001–September 2002

8.  We remain committed to the strategy of the PRGF-supported program, for promoting growth with equity through macroeconomic stabilization, economic reform, and integration into the regional economies. The National Assembly approved the National Socio-Economic Development Plan (NSEDP) for 2001/02 with a target for real growth in the range of 6–6½ percent. The Government acknowledges that Fund staff currently projects real GDP growth at about 5 percent, owing to a more fragile external environment, providing a prudent basis for the financial program. Inflation should be reduced to 6 percent by September 2002. The current account deficit is anticipated to remain manageable at 4½ percent of GDP (including grants), as weaker export prospects are offset by reduced import demand. By creating a favorable environment for investment, and with an anticipated recovery in external demand by 2003, medium-term growth in real GDP would be at least 6 percent, inflation would be reduced to about 5 percent, and gross official reserves should reach three months of import coverage.

Fiscal policy

9.  The government will improve fiscal discipline in the 2001/02 budget after the weaker-than-expected performance in 2000/01. The overall deficit in the program is targeted to remain at about 5 percent of GDP and would be financed largely through concessional external loans with only limited recourse to domestic bank financing (0.3 percent of GDP).2 As outlined in the NSEDP for 2001/02 we are aiming at a significant increase in revenue collections. For the purposes of the program a conservative estimate of a ½ percent of GDP increase in revenue is projected, given the uncertainty about the economic environment and the effect of administrative measures. To make progress towards meeting the goals in our National Poverty Reduction Program (NPRP) current expenditures for social sector and human resource development will increase substantially, but cutbacks in capital expenditures will keep the ratio of total expenditure to GDP broadly constant. If revenue falls below program expectations we will take offsetting action through restraint on domestically funded capital expenditures, while protecting operations and maintenance, local counterpart funds, and key social sector spending.

10.  The revenue target for 2001/02 will be mainly achieved by a further strengthening of tax administration and compliance. The key revenue measures in the 2001/02 budget include: adjusting the customs valuation exchange rate monthly to 100 percent of the bank exchange rate, and implementing the amendments to the Tax Law to improve compliance. In addition, we are committed to significant improvements in tax and customs administration through (i) strengthening the implementation of the national network of Customs and Taxation Departments and (ii) strengthening the capacity of four key provincial tax offices, initially focusing on Vientiane Prefecture, to assess and collect taxes from large taxpayers. We have also made customs duties a fully national tax to strengthen the own resource base of the central government and we are considering merging customs staff in the Vientiane Prefecture with headquarters staff, as a first step in developing a national customs administration. To further strengthen the tax base we are tentatively planning to introduce a VAT in 2003/04 and have established a VAT implementation committee and started drafting the legal framework to meet this goal.

11.  Overall expenditure will be restrained to 22 percent of GDP, with increased allocations for the social sectors and operations and maintenance. Basic civil servant wages were increased by 25 percent from the start of 2002 to continue the process of compensating for past inflation. The budget makes provision for at least 1 percent of GDP for clearing capital and 0.7 percent of GDP for current arrears. The reintroduction of effective commitment controls, for quarterly salary and provincial recurrent expenditures and case-by-case for large capital expenditures, will contribute to avoiding the accumulation of new arrears. Provincial government and line ministry bank accounts are being streamlined. To more closely monitor budget implementation under the program, the fiscal accounts will be regularly reconciled with the banking data.

12.  The government will take decisive steps to improve public expenditure management. As identified in the Public Expenditure Review (PER), improvements are needed to strengthen macroeconomic stability, provide more effective cash management and treasury operations, and upgrade the information base for budget planning, execution, accountability, and transparency. By March 2002 we will develop an improved budget nomenclature and a unified chart of accounts that identifies expenditures by ministry/province and sector, for introduction in the 2002/03 budget. The 2001/02 budget, covering central government line ministries and provinces, and the outturn for 2000/01, will be published in February, and full details of the budget, covering expenditures classified by ministry/province and sector will be published in the Official Gazette by March 2002. In addition, by April 2002 we will agree with Fund staff on a comprehensive medium-term action plan for public expenditure management improvements for implementation in the remainder of the PRGF arrangement. This would include the identification of plans and timeframe to classify current and capital expenditures by program within each sector. As a prelude to move the presentation of the fiscal accounts to an internationally standard basis, the government will request technical assistance from the Fund's Statistics Department.

Monetary and exchange rate policy

13.  Monetary policy will continue to be oriented towards restraining inflation while permitting prudent lending by commercial banks. With the sharp reduction in the bank financing requirement of the budget, additional sales of treasury bills (with greater flexibility in treasury bill yields), and the closer monitoring of the central government's fiscal position, the need for BOL financing of the budget will be eliminated. In addition, the BOL will continue to reduce its credit to banks so as to keep the BOL's net domestic assets broadly constant (including the proceeds from the disbursement of external concessional loans).

14.  To support economic growth while limiting the additional risks to SCB portfolios, SCB credit growth in 2001/02 will be limited to 16 percent while total commercial bank credit would be permitted to grow by 18 percent (excluding the credit for the Lao Brewery share purchase, which will be fully repaid in early 2002). Although explicit ceilings will limit SCB credit growth, the more effective implementation of prudential measures will reduce the demand for credit. If the nonperforming loans (NPLs) of any of the SCBs on the post-2000 loans exceed 15 percent, the level of their total credit will be frozen.

15.  The BOL will continue to manage the exchange rate flexibly, permitting the banks' exchange rate to adjust so as to maintain the margin with the parallel market rate at less than 2 percent and avoid multiple exchange rates. The government and the BOL will adjust macroeconomic policies to correct any persistent weakness in the kip especially with respect to the currencies of neighboring countries. We will also continue to improve the functioning of the interbank foreign exchange market.

IV.  Key Structural Reforms

16.  We will continue to deepen the implementation of the structural reforms to establish a sustainable higher growth rate and to manage public resources more effectively for poverty reduction.

Banking reform

17.  The MOF, BOL, and the SCBs have developed individual restructuring plans. These have been prepared in the form of Memoranda of Understanding on Restructuring and cover the main policy commitments, and are consistent with principles indicated in Appendix I of the MEFP of March 26, 2001.

18.  The main elements are:

  • Financial and operational restructuring will be implemented in the period 2002-05 through phased recapitalization, conditional on meeting qualitative and quantitative targets which would be specified by May 2002 as part of the banks' business plans.

  • The two smaller Lao May and Lane Xang Banks (LMB-LXB) will merge and rationalize their operations to reduce operational costs and accelerate the adoption of modern banking procedures.

  • To support the restructuring efforts the government accepts the role of a small number of foreign advisors in providing technical assistance in each of the two SCBs (LMB-LXB, and BCEL). In addition to providing advice on internal bank practices, they would review proposed large credit decisions. Objections by the advisor could be overridden but the process would be transparent and such credits would be subject to special monitoring. Also the form of management support would be strengthened if the new management team do not meet the performance indicators.

  • Bank supervision will be strengthened for the phased implementation of bank supervision regulations, focusing first on those that affect credit quality. In this regard, the implementation of banking supervision measures for the setting up of provisions for post 2000 loans in accordance with BOL 98 from the end 2001 balance sheet will be a structural performance criteria for April 2002.

Enterprise reform

19.  Enterprise policies remain aimed at protecting macroeconomic stability and supporting bank restructuring, while also laying the foundation for a more efficient sector to support faster economic growth. In conjunction with the World Bank, we will begin the restructuring process of five large SOEs, three are large defaulting borrowers, the Phoudoi conglomerate, Nam Papa (Water) and Lao Aviation, one large loss maker, Pharmaceutical Factory #3, and EDL, a main revenue earner. Drafting of the restructuring plans of an additional 5 large defaulters will start by October 2002.

20.  In addition, we are strengthening the financial position of the large SOEs by adjusting prices, many of which have lagged behind inflation. Water prices were adjusted in April and November last year, by an average of about 100 percent, to provide the resources for more effective maintenance, and further adjustments will be considered in June 2002. Electricity prices were adjusted by 3–3½ percent per month through end-2001. A recent study on electricity prices is being reviewed by Government and a decision on the path of future price adjustments required to achieve cost recovery in 2002 is expected in April. In the case of Lao Aviation, prices were raised in July 2001, and will be raised again in April this year, but further adjustments will be required to enable the airline to achieve commercial viability and cost recovery. World Bank technical assistance is being considered to conduct a study on the airline's fare structure, and by March, we expect to be able to establish a revised timeline for fare adjustments to reach a cost-recovery level by October 2002.

21.  To promote private sector development, we are currently streamlining administrative procedures for foreign investment, including through the single window approach. In addition, we are working with the AsDB and the World Bank to develop a more comprehensive approach in this area.

Safeguard issues

22.  We acknowledge that the Stage One safeguard assessment by the Fund found that the BOL has a high risk in all five of the vulnerabilities in the assessment. To address these concerns we will fully implement the recommendations of the IMF Safeguards Report. In particular, we will:

  • Request that the National Audit Office, with the assistance of an international auditing firm, audit the BOL's accounts for 2001 in accordance with international standards on auditing, to be completed by July 2002;

  • Publish the BOL's audited accounts for 2001 and the audit opinion, by end-August 2002 and commit to publishing all subsequent audited accounts;

  • Prepare pro forma financial statements of the BOL for 2001 in accordance with international accounting standards, and with the assistance of an international accounting firm, for completion by end-July 2002;

  • Prepare a reconciliation of the audited international reserves in the 2000 and 2001 financial statements of the BOL with net international reserves as defined and reported under the PRGF-supported program by March 2002; and

  • Conduct a high-level review of the internal financial controls of the BOL, as recommended in the audit of the National Audit Office, by May 2002.

Poverty reduction strategy

23.   The Government of the Lao P.D.R. is planning to finalize its NPRP by August 2002. The NPRP will be fully consistent with the requirements of the PRSP and builds on the interim PRSP (I-PRSP) published in April 2001, and the Participatory Poverty Assessment published in June 2001. Importantly, the elaboration of our NPRP will be both nationally owned and participatory, involving all segments of society, including the Lao Women's Union, the Lao Youth Organization, the Trade Union Federation, and the Lao Front for Reconstruction, and, most importantly, the poor themselves.

24.  We are also expeditiously putting in place the informational and analytical basis for the full PRSP, through;

  • The National Statistical Center (NSC), with the assistance of the World Bank, is working towards finalizing poverty measurements based on the last household expenditure and consumption survey (LECS-II) and evaluating various poverty monitoring indicators;

  • The NSC, with further support from Sweden, has started preparing a follow-up LECS (LECS-III) and drafted guidelines for a poverty reporting system (PRS) developing criteria for defining poverty at household, village and provincial levels. Both the LECS-III and the PRS will assist Government not only better analyze the sources of poverty, but also assess and monitor the impact of policies on poverty reduction outcomes;

  • The Public Expenditure Review, conducted in collaboration with the AsDB, IMF, World Bank, and bilateral donors, has developed recommendations to obtain information on expenditures by sector for prioritizing them to meet the goals of the NPRP; and

  • The PRSP Committee is elaborating specific poverty-reducing measures in the areas of food security, rural development, forestry, road infrastructure, and health and education, and their budgetary impact.

Other areas

25.  In view of the Lao P.D.R.'s vulnerable external position, we will limit the contracting or guaranteeing of new nonconcessional external debt. In addition, we will continue to upgrade the monitoring of our external debt through the External Debt Monitoring Unit in the Ministry of Finance. The negotiations with the Russian Federation are ongoing, and another round of negotiations is planned in 2002.

26.  The government will undertake a number of prior actions ahead of the IMF Executive Board consideration of the first PRGF review, in order to keep the program on a solid footing (Table 6). Table 5 contains quantitative performance criteria for end-March and end-September 2002 and quantitative benchmarks for end-June 2002; structural policy undertakings are summarized in Table 7. The second review under the PRGF arrangement, which we are aiming to complete by June 2002, will focus on the economic program for the remainder of 2001/02, including adjustments to fiscal policy required in the mid-year budget review in March 2002, and the development of plans for reforms to the SCBs, SOEs, taxation, and public expenditure management, for the remainder of the PRGF period.

27.  To help strengthen program implementation, technical assistance will continue to be sought from the IMF in bank supervision, tax policy and administration, and national accounts and government finance statistics.

Attachments Use the free Adobe Acrobat Reader to view the Tables 1-7 (389 kb PDF file)

Table 1. Summary Macroeconomic Framework 1998–2004
Table 2. General Government Operations, 1999/00–2001/02
Table 3. Balance Sheet of the Bank of Lao P.D.R., 2001–02
Table 4. Monetary Survey, 2000–02
Table 5. Quantitative Performance Criteria and Benchmarks, 2000–02
Table 6. Prior Actions for the Completion of the First Review
Table 7. Structural Policy Actions Under the First Annual PRGF-Supported Program
Appendix I. Main Elements of State Commercial Bank Restructuring
Appendix II. Technical Memorandum on Program Monitoring

1The fiscal year runs October through September. The government is considering requesting technical assistance from the Fund to improve the compilation of the GDP estimates.
2IMF definitions and GDP estimates.

Appendix I

Main Elements of State Commercial Bank Restructuring

The state commercial banks need to be restructured in order to create robust banking institutions. With the technical assistance of the Asian Development Bank and the World Bank, the government has adopted the Memoranda of Understanding for Restructuring (MoURs) that set out the main elements of the restructuring program. To ensure credit discipline and to move the banks to a more sustainable direction, comprehensive operational restructuring and financial recapitalization will be phased in during the period 2002–05. This support will be conditional on performance improvements, which will be closely monitored.

Operational restructuring

  • The two smaller banks, Lao May Bank and Lane Xang Bank will merge and rationalize their operations to reduce operational costs and accelerate the adoption of modern banking procedures.

  • Both the merged bank and BCEL will rationalize the operations of branches and units, and would implement rightsizing and cost cutting measures. A social safety net for affected staff will be implemented.

  • The banks will take steps to set up an efficient bank information technology system.

  • The key elements of the business plans will be prepared by May 2002, which will specify the qualitative (structural) and quantitative performance indicators and targets based on BOL 98, and the operational steps to be taken to meet the performance targets. Parallel monitoring will also be done on the basis of international accounting standards and there will be a review of the cause of widening divergences.

  • Both the merged banks and BCEL will utilize foreign advisors whose role would include:

    • Reviewing proposed credit transactions in excess of KN 300m for compliance with commercial lending criteria. An objection by the advisor would be accompanied by a full written commentary. This objection may be overridden by the SCB management or board, but such credits would be subject to special monitoring.

    • Providing advice on internal banking practices, and information system requirements.

    • The arrangements for management support would be upgraded if the new management team did not meet the performance indicators.

    • The specifics of the terms of reference of the advisors, and selection process would be developed with the AsDB and World Bank in preparation for their operations.

Credit discipline

  • Though still considered necessary, policy lending will be subject to commercial credit appraisal criteria. The banks will not conduct directed and other forms of noncommercial lending.

  • The banks will price loans and deposits according to profitability and risk considerations without government influence.

Financial restructuring

  • The banks will be recapitalized through a four-year capital build-up program in the period 2002–2005. Treasury instruments will be used for capital build-up which will pay market interest and will initially be non-discountable and non-marketable. The recapitalization will be limited to pre-2000 nonperforming loans (NPLs). The banks will build up their capital to eventually reach a capital adequacy ratio of 12 percent.

  • The NPL resolution process will be: initiated and led by the banks, well-documented, carried out on a case-by-case basis, with full disclosures to all concerned parties, and implemented under a well-defined decision making process that strictly adheres to objective criteria.

  • The 2001/02 budget includes funds for the clearance of government arrears to contractors of about 1 percent of GDP. A high-level committee, comprising the Minister of Finance, the Minister of Justice, and the Acting Governor of the BOL, has been established to administer the payments which will be used to reduce NPLs of the banks.

Performance monitoring

  • Qualitative performance indicators on the implementation of the restructuring plans, as well as quantitative indicators on capital adequacy, asset quality, management efficiency, earnings, and liquidity will be established. Successful achievement of performance targets will be the basis for continued support and recapitalization.

  • The final performance targets will be set and agreed upon on the basis of the diagnostic reviews and audit results.

  • The banks will carry out annual external audits based on international standards.

Banking supervision

  • Banking supervision will be strengthened by improving the skills of the staff of the Banking Supervision Department of the BOL and conducting frequent onsite and offsite inspections. The government has requested technical assistance from the IMF in this regard.

  • During the restructuring period, BOL will phase in compliance with prudential regulations, such as BOL 98. Full provisioning for all credits made after December 31, 1999 is currently required and provisioning on earlier loans will be phased in over four years.

  • Other requirements, e.g. on the concentration of risks and foreign exchange exposure, and on the reporting of off-balance sheet exposures, will also be phased in, and the banks have suspended and reversed accrued interest on all NPLs.


Appendix II

Government of the Lao People's Democratic Republic
Supplementary Memorandum of Economic
and Financial Policies
Technical Memorandum on Program Monitoring

1.  This Technical Memorandum on Program Monitoring (TMPM) defines the concepts used to determine observance of the quantitative and structural performance criteria and benchmarks specified in the Memorandum of Economic and Financial Policies for 2002 (MEFP) of the Government of the Lao People's Democratic Republic (Lao P.D.R.) under the Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility (PRGF) arrangement (Sections I and II), and details the requirements for program monitoring and reporting (Section III).

I.  Quantitative Performance Targets1

A.  Definitions2

Item 1: Net domestic assets of the Bank of Lao (NDABOL)

2.  Defined as reserve money (RM) minus net foreign assets of the BOL (NFABOL).

  • Reserve money is defined as the sum of notes and coins issued by the BOL, excluding BOL holdings of currency, and deposits of commercial banks and the domestic nongovernmental sectors at the BOL. Reserve money excludes all BOL securities.

  • Net foreign assets of the BOL (NFABOL) are defined as the gross foreign assets of the BOL (GFABOL) less gross official foreign liabilities of the BOL (GOFLBOL). GFABOL include holdings of SDRs by the BOL, the Lao P.D.R.'s reserve position in the Fund, all foreign exchange holdings and foreign assets of the monetary authorities, including official holdings of monetary gold. Foreign exchange holdings of the monetary authorities include claims of the BOL and the Ministry of Finance (MOF) on nonresidents in the form of bank deposits and all foreign government securities, regardless of maturity. Foreign exchange assets of commercial banks held as collateral against BOL credits are not included as gross foreign assets of the BOL. From September 2001 the yen proceeds from the Japanese commodity grants are excluded from gross foreign assets of the BOL and included in other items (net). GOFLBOL comprise foreign liabilities of the BOL with original maturity up to, and including, one year, and the use of Fund resources.

Item 2: Net credit to government from the banking system (NCG)

3.  Defined as claims on the general government by the banking system less deposits of the general government with the banking system. Claims include bank loans and advances to the general government, as well as bank holdings of all government bonds and treasury bills, regardless of maturity, but exclude government lending funds as defined below.

  • Deposits of the general government with the banking system exclude the yen proceeds from the disbursements of the Japanese commodity grants from September 2001.

  • Government lending funds (GLF) of the BOL are defined as the sum of the kip value of long-term foreign liabilities of the BOL (i.e., with original maturities exceeding one year, except liabilities to the IMF) denominated in foreign currencies.

Item 3: Net domestic assets of the state commercial banks (NDASCB)

4.  These state commercial banks include Banque pour le Commerce Extérieur Lao (BCEL), Lane Xang Bank (LXB), and Lao May Bank (LMB). NDASCB is defined as the sum of deposit liabilities less net foreign assets, net credit to government, and net claims on the BOL.

Item 4: Net official international reserves (NIRBOL)

5.  NIRBOL is defined as "freely available" GFABOL minus GOFLBOL minus the foreign currency component of banks' required reserves at the BOL. Freely available reserves are defined in the IMF's Data Template on International Reserves and Foreign Currency Liquidity: Operational Guidelines and comprise of liquid or marketable foreign exchange assets readily available to the BOL (and exclude illiquid foreign assets especially those in nonconvertible currencies). Starting December 2000, the yen proceeds from the disbursements of the Japanese commodity grants are not included in NIRBOL.

Item 5: Publicly contracted or guaranteed nonconcessional external debt

6.  Ceilings on external debts are calculated as commitments from the start of the program year (end September 2001). They exclude concessional credits, use of Fund resources, normal trade-related credits, and any borrowing associated with debt rescheduling. During the program period, neither the government, the BOL, nor any other agency acting on behalf of the government will contract or guarantee short-term external loans.

  • This performance criterion applies not only to debt as defined below, but also to commitments contracted or guaranteed for which value has not been received. For the purpose of this memorandum, the term "debt", as specified in point No.9 of the Guidelines on Performance Criteria with Respect to Foreign Debt (Decision No. 12274-(00/85), August 24, 2000) will be understood to mean a current, i.e., not contingent, liability, created under a contractual arrangement through the provision of value in the form of assets (including currency) or services, and which requires the obligor to make one or more payments in the form of assets (including currency) or services at some future point(s) in time; these payments will discharge the principal and/or interest liabilities incurred under the contract. Debts can take a number of forms, the primary ones being as follows:

      (i) loans, i.e., advances of money to obligor by the lender made on the basis of an undertaking that the obligor will repay the funds in the future (including deposits, bonds, debentures, commercial loans, and buyers' credits) and temporary exchanges of assets that are equivalent to fully collateralized loans under which the obligor is required to repay the funds, and usually pay interest, by repurchasing the collateral from the buyer in the future (such as repurchase agreements and official swap arrangements);

      (ii) suppliers' credits, i.e., contracts where the supplier permits the obligor to defer payments until some time after the date on which the goods are delivered or services are provided; and

      (iii) leases, i.e., arrangements under which property is provided which the lessee has the right to use for one or more specified period(s) of time that are usually shorter than the total expected service life of the property, while the lessor retains the title to the property. For the purpose of this memorandum, the debt is the present value (at the inception of the lease) of all lease payments expected to be made during the period of the agreement excluding those payments that cover the operation, repair, or maintenance of the property.

    Under the definition of debt set out above, arrears, penalties, and judicially awarded damages arising from the failure to make payment under a contractual obligation that constitutes debt are debt. Failure to make payment on an obligation that is not considered debt under this definition (e.g., payment on delivery) will not give rise to debt.

  • Short-term external debt includes all short-term external debt obligations having an original maturity of up to one year, but excludes short-term trade credits.

  • The public sector is defined to include the Government of the Lao P.D.R., the Bank of the Lao P.D.R., state-owned enterprises, or any other agency acting on behalf of the government.

  • Nonconcessional external debt is defined as debt having a grant element of less than 35 percent. The grant element of a debt is determined by comparing the net present value (NPV) of the financing costs and principal repayments with the nominal value of the debt. The NPV of financing costs and principal repayments will be calculated with a discount rate based on the OECD CIRRs for the currency of a debt, plus a margin. For debts with a repayment period of less than 15 years, the discount rate will be equal to the CIRR rate of the previous six months plus a margin of ¾ percent. For debts with maturities of 15 years or more, the discount rate will be equal to the average of the CIRRs for the previous ten years plus a margin that varies according to the maturity of the debt. The margins are 1 percent for debts of 15 to 19 years; 1.15 percent for debts of 20 to 29; and 1¼ percent for debts of 30 years or more.

Item 6: External payments arrears

7.  Defined as the stock of external arrears on debts contracted or guaranteed by the government or the BOL, except on debts subject to rescheduling or debt forgiveness. For purposes of the program, external payments will be considered as arrears if they are not paid within 30 days of the date they are due. During the period of the program, neither the government nor the BOL will accumulate new external payments arrears. Overdue debt and debt-service obligations arising in respect of commercial obligations incurred directly, or guaranteed by, the government or the BOL, that are in dispute, will not be considered as external payment arrears for the purposes of program monitoring. As of December 31, 2001, there were no external payments arrears.

B.  Test Dates

8.  Quarterly quantitative targets have been established for items 1 to 5. The quantitative target on item 6 will be applicable on a continuous basis.

9.  Quantitative targets for the test dates of end-March 2002 and end-September 2002 are performance criteria, and the disbursement associated with observance of end-March performance criteria will also be contingent on the completion of the second review.

C.  Program Monitoring Exchange Rates

10.  In assessing observance of the program targets, the level of foreign currency assets and liabilities, excluding those denominated in SDRs, will be first converted into U.S. dollars at the test date midpoint market exchange rate. Only assets and liabilities identified as being in foreign currencies in the September 2001 balance sheets of the BOL and commercial banks would be subject to valuation adjustments.

11.  For performance criteria and targets specified in kip, the U.S. dollar value of foreign currency assets and liabilities will be converted into kip at the midpoint program exchange rate of KN 9,500 = US$1. SDR assets and liabilities will be valued at a fixed midpoint program exchange rate of SDR1 = US$1.289. Non-U.S. dollar and non-SDR foreign assets and liabilities will be converted first into U.S. dollars using midpoint market exchange rates prevailing at end-period.

D.  Program Adjusters

12.   The program (i) floor for NIRBOL will be increased (decreased); and (ii) ceilings for NDABOL and NCG will be decreased (increased), by the amount of the excess (shortfall) in external nonproject budgetary support from the programmed amounts specified in Table 6 of the MEFP and the shortfall (excess) of external debt-service payments from programmed amounts.

13.   The program ceilings for NCG (and NDASCB) will be adjusted upwards (downwards) for the issue of government securities for bank recapitalization in accordance with the agreed bank restructuring program.

II.  Structural Performance Criteria and Benchmarks

14.   Defaulting borrowers are defined as those borrowers from the banking system with loans classified by commercial banks as doubtful (grade D) and loss (grade E), as defined in BOL Regulation No. 98, 1998.

15.   Large borrowers are defined to include, at each test date, the 20 largest borrowers from BCEL, the 5 largest borrowers from LMB, and the 5 largest borrowers from LXB.

16.   Bank supervision measures for loan provisioning comprise the issuing of required regulations and instructions, implementing the reporting system, effective onsite inspections and the sanctions for noncompliance.

III. Program Monitoring and Reporting Requirements

17.  Data required to monitor performance under the program, including those related to performance criteria and benchmarks, will be provided to the IMF's Resident Representative and are listed in the table below.

Item Periodicity
Monetary data (to be provided by BOL)
A report on loans, deposits, reserves at the BOL, and excess reserves of BCEL, LXB, and LMB; and the outstanding stock of BOL and Treasury securities, and the gross official reserve assets and liabilities of the BOL. Weekly within one week of the end of each week.
The balance sheet of the BOL. Monthly within two weeks of the end of each month.
The breakdown of NIRBOL in U.S. dollars (including the currency composition of foreign exchange holdings), GOFLBOL, and GLF.
The monetary survey, the consolidated balance sheet of the commercial banks, and the individual balance sheets of the three SCBs. Each of the three SCBs will also report all off-balance sheet obligations. Monthly within four weeks of the end of each month.
Amount of bills offered by BOL in the central bank bills auction, amount sold to each bank, and the average yield in percent per month.
A report on the largest borrowers, in terms of credit outstanding, from the state commercial banks (5 largest for LXB and LMB, and 20 largest for BCEL) showing total amount of credit in original currency and credit risk rating. Quarterly within four weeks of the end of each quarter.
Fiscal data (to be provided by MOF)
The consolidated accounts of the general government, including detailed data on tax and nontax revenues, current and capital expenditures, and net lending, reconciled with financing data. Financing components should be separated into foreign sources (grants, program and project loans), domestic sources (bank and nonbank), and receipts from asset sales. Quarterly within four weeks of the end of each quarter.
External sector data (to be provided by MOF)
Commitments (with information on the terms), disbursements, stocks and debt service payments (principal and interest separately) on external debt contracted or guaranteed by the government, state-owned enterprises, or the BOL, in U.S. dollars, by creditor. Quarterly within four weeks of the end of each quarter.
Stock of external payments arrears.
Total export and total import values in U.S. dollars, along with available commodity breakdown.
Other data (to be provided by NSC)
Overall consumer price index and a detailed breakdown by major categories of goods and services included in the consumer basket. Monthly within two weeks of the end of each month.

1For items 1 to 6 in Table 5.
2Variables with foreign currency components are to be valued according to Section I.B.