Press Release: IMF Approves ESAF Loan for Mozambique
June 28, 1999
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) today approved a three-year loan for Mozambique under the Enhanced Structural Adjustment Facility (ESAF),1 equivalent to SDR 58.8 million (about US$78.50 million) to support the government’s 1999-2002 economic reform program. The first annual loan will be disbursed in three equal installments, the first equivalent to SDR 8.4 million (about US$11.21 million) will be available on July 8, 1999.
In commenting on the Executive Board’s discussion of Mozambique’s request, Shigemitsu Sugisaki, Deputy Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), made the following statement:
"Directors welcomed the authorities’ commitment to macroeconomic stabilization and the structural reforms. These were key determinants of Mozambique’s strong economic performance in 1998 when real GDP grew by over 10 percent per year, inflation fell to single-digit levels, and international reserves rose substantially.
"Directors recognized the scale of the challenges facing Mozambique, above all to reduce the high incidence of poverty. They stressed that, to meet the tasks that would fall to the public sector in addressing poverty and developmental needs, without sacrificing macroeconomic stability, it would be necessary to increase government revenue, strengthen tax administration, and reduce exemptions and tax distortions. In this connection, Directors welcomed the recent introduction of the value-added tax. While recognizing the progress already achieved in the area of trade liberalization, they stressed the benefits of further reducing tariff rates. Over time, Directors looked forward to a strengthening fiscal position permitting a decline in Mozambique’s heavy dependence on foreign aid.
"Directors encouraged the authorities to persevere on the reform path and welcomed the emphasis given in the government’s program to the efficiency and transparency of government operations, carrying forward civil service reform, the improvement of the legal and judicial system, the development of the financial system, and the encouragement of private sector participation in the provision of public services.
"Directors noted with satisfaction the intended strengthening of education and health services, which would benefit from the substantial prospective debt relief under the HIPC Initiative. Directors welcomed the authorities’ continuing efforts to strengthen the provision and targetingof social services. They looked forward to the forceful implementation of the recently adopted Poverty Action Plan and adequate allocation of government spending in the social sector and building up human capital," Sugisaki said.
Macroeconomic performance improved markedly during the three-year ESAF program that expires in July 1999, under which Mozambique consolidated its recovery from war and raised depressed per capita income. This strong performance was fostered by prudent fiscal and monetary policies, political stability, and favorable external developments. Increased confidence in the economy was reflected in higher levels of foreign aid, long-term capital inflows, and a stable exchange rate.
The government’s medium-term program addresses key structural problems while aiming to consolidate economic growth, projected at about 10% in 1999 and 7% annually during 2000-01. The expected slowdown in 2000, after a three-year spurt of double-digit growth will in part be caused by the end of construction of the Mozal aluminum smelter. Annual inflation which has declined from 70% in 1994 to less than 1% in 1998, is expected to be held near 5% in 1999 onward. The level of gross international reserves is expected to remain at the equivalent of about five months of imports of goods and nonfactor services during 1999-2001.
To achieve these objectives, the government’s program continues to emphasize financial discipline, outward-looking policies, and the creation of an environment conducive to private investment. Financial policies in 1999-2000 are geared toward maintaining stable macroeconomic conditions and dealing with the peak in foreign aid expected in 1999. A domestic primary budget deficit of 2.6% of GDP, before grants is targeted in 1999. Total revenue is projected to increase by 1 percentage point relative to GDP during 1999-2000, the result of replacing turnover and consumption taxes with the VAT and selected excise taxes and of improving customs administration. Current expenditure is programmed to increase by 1 percentage point of GDP in 1999. Broad money growth will be limited to 17% in 1999 and 13% in 2000.
A package of budgetary reforms is being implemented, as well as a public enterprise restructuring and privatization program. Over 1, 300 public enterprises have been privatized, granted for concession or liquidated to date. Regarding public administration reform, revised career streams and a new compensation system have been implemented; an additional step was taken in the shortening the range in civil service salaries between the highest and lowest paid. In support of the central bank’s change from using individual bank ceilings on net domestic assets to indirect instruments of monetary control, the current system of sporadic central bank money market operations will be converted to a system of regular treasury bill auctions. At the same time, steps will be taken to increase economic security and eliminate administrative barriers to investment and trade. By making these structural reforms, the government seeks to: promote fiscal sustainability, improve the efficiency and transparency of the budgetary process, ensure the sustainability of public expenditure programs, reduce further the extent of state participation in the economy,develop an efficient and accountable public administration, improve monetary management, create a competitive and sound banking system, and increase the openness of the economy.
In the social sector, despite the impressive macroeconomic achievements of the last three years, poverty remains a compelling issue. The national poverty assessment of 1998 found that about 70% of the population still lives below the poverty line, and social indicators for Mozambique are less favorable than corresponding averages in other sub-Saharan African countries.
There are still areas of macroeconomic concern too, government revenue collection is relatively low as a percentage of GDP, which together with pressing needs for infrastructure and social services, has led to a heavy dependence on foreign aid. Moreover, domestic savings is low, the legal and regulatory environment for private sector activity needs strengthening, and public administration is handicapped by a lack of qualified staff. The success of Mozambique’s new program will thus depend on the implementation of strong reforms in all these areas.
Mozambique joined the IMF on September 24, 1984, and its quota is SDR 113.6 million (about US$151.65 million). Its outstanding use of IMF financing currently totals SDR 148.56 million (about US$198.32 million).
1 The ESAF is a concessional IMF facility for assisting eligible members that are undertaking economic reform programs to strengthen their balance of payments and improve their growth prospects. ESAF loans carry an interest rate of 0.5 percent and are repayable over 10 years with a 5½ year grace period.