IMF Executive Board Discusses the Ex Post Assessment of Longer-Term Program Engagement with BurundiPublic Information Notice (PIN) No. 11/92
July 19, 2011
Public Information Notices (PINs) form part of the IMF's efforts to promote transparency of the IMF's views and analysis of economic developments and policies. With the consent of the country (or countries) concerned, PINs are issued after Executive Board discussions of Article IV consultations with member countries, of its surveillance of developments at the regional level, of post-program monitoring, and of ex post assessments of member countries with longer-term program engagements. PINs are also issued after Executive Board discussions of general policy matters, unless otherwise decided by the Executive Board in a particular case.
On July 13, 2011, the Executive Board of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) discussed the Ex Post Assessment (EPA) of Longer-Term Program Engagement with Burundi.1
Burundi has been engaged with the Fund since 2002, through a Post-Conflict Emergency Assistance (2002–03) and two successive Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility (now Extended Credit Facility) arrangements. The EPA focuses on the latter two, covering the period since January 2004.
Despite steady improvements in civil peace and macroeconomic stability, economic development has remained constrained by weak institutions and governance, small and inefficient markets, poor infrastructure, and scarce capital, skills and technology. Growth has rebounded to pre-conflict levels, but remains volatile. Satisfactory performance under the programs secured considerable debt relief under the Heavily Indebted Poor Country (HIPC) and Multilateral Debt Relief Initiatives (MDRI), and encouraged a surge in external aid that boosted government outlays in priority sectors, but left the public sector highly dependent on foreign assistance. Notable progress was made on structural reforms aimed at improving the conduct of monetary and fiscal policies, but was much slower in other areas, especially the coffee sector (the main source of income for half of the population). Technical assistance has played an important role in enhancing the macroeconomic policy framework.
Looking forward, Burundi needs a growth strategy based on further reforms that alleviate key bottlenecks and guarantee stability-oriented macroeconomic policies. Priorities for macroeconomic policies include greater exchange rate flexibility to better absorb external shocks, and the need to save part of the growth dividends to build fiscal buffers and restore debt sustainability. Further technical assistance aimed at implementing recent institutional reforms and building up capacities will be essential.
Executive Board Assessment
Directors broadly agreed with the findings of the Ex-Post Assessment that Fund involvement in Burundi has supported sound macroeconomic policies, catalyzed external assistance, and spurred reforms on a broad front. More broadly, Burundi’s experience highlights the importance of strong program ownership and well-coordinated technical assistance and donor support. Directors noted that continued technical assistance and a successor program could cement macroeconomic stability and boost growth prospects.