Press Release: IMF Approves in Principle Third Annual PRGF Loan for Tajikistan
October 25, 2000
The Executive Board of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) today approved in principle the third-year program for Tajikistan under the Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility (PRGF)1 in an amount equivalent to SDR 40 million (about US$51 million), to support the government's economic program.
A final decision by the IMF Executive Board is pending discussion of Tajikistan's interim Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP) by the World Bank Executive Board, expected to occur on October 31, 2000. The first quarterly disbursement under the third-year of Tajikistan's economic program will become available in an amount equivalent to SDR 6 million (about US$8 million) when a final decision is made by the IMF Executive Board.
Tajikistan's three-year program, originally supported under ESAF, was first approved on June 24, 1998 (see Press Release No. 98/25), in an amount equivalent to SDR 96 million (about US$123 million), which was increased in December 1998 to an amount equivalent to SDR 100.3 million (about US$128 million), of which an amount equivalent to SDR 60.3 million (about US$77 million) has been disbursed.
In commenting on the Executive Board discussion on Tajikistan, Eduardo Aninat, IMF Deputy Managing Director and Acting Chairman, said:
“Macroeconomic developments in Tajikistan during the first half of 2000 were favorable, despite the difficult external environment, as demonstrated by the continued growth of GDP and a decline in inflation. Although policy implementation was uneven under the Second Annual Arrangement under the Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility (PRGF), because of resistance by vested interests, the authorities have continued to pursue macroeconomic stabilization and economic reform, and have taken remedial steps to strengthen implementation. The proposed program envisages a three-pronged approach: stabilization, structural reforms to improve governance, and addressing the problem of the large external debt.
“Strict adherence to the program's monetary and fiscal policy targets will be required for macroeconomic stabilization, especially with respect to central bank net credit to government and the private sector, the elimination of all directed credits, the maintenance of disciplined budgetary management, and improvements in tax administration. The heavy external debt burden reinforces the need for strong macroeconomic management and accelerated structural reforms. This will require implementation of privatization and land reform programs with renewed impetus and greater transparency. The authorities have acknowledged the importance of improved governance, which will be essential for the successful implementation of the third-year program under the PRGF, and are committed to implement a special package of governance reforms.
“The Fund considers that the interim PRSP provides a sound basis for the development of a full, participatory PRSP and for Fund concessional support under the PRGF. Transparency and accountability in the management of public resources, as well as an effective strategy to ensure an all inclusive participatory process, will be critical in this endeavor,” Mr. Aninat said.
Macroeconomic developments in Tajikistan during 2000 have been favorable despite the difficulties brought by severe drought and high oil prices, with the economy growing for the fourth consecutive year and inflation declining to a moderate level. The strategy of Tajikistan's program is to address the three salient constraints to sustainable stabilization and growth-uneven implementation of financial policies, weak governance, and high external debt. The key macroeconomic objectives of the program are sustained real GDP growth of around 5 percent a year in 2000 from 3.7 percent in 1999 and halving the annual inflation in 2001 from its current level of 24 percent. The import coverage of official international reserves is programmed to increase to 2.7 months by end-2001 from the current 1.5 months.
Under the fiscal program, which calls for consolidation in order to move toward debt sustainability, the ratio of general government revenue to GDP is programmed to increase to 14.5 percent in 2001 from 13.5 percent in 1999. Revenue is expected to increase as a result of the favorable impact of growth on consumption tax bases (VAT and excises). Improvements in tax administration should also contribute to achieving the higher revenue targets. With the projected GDP growth and rising tax ratios, total general government expenditure could grow on average by 4-5 percent annually in real terms, creating room for a real increase in social spending, mainly for education, health, pensions, and income maintenance support. Monetary policy will remain tight to strengthen the balance of payments and contain inflation.
Structural policies will provide critical support for monetary stability and equitable growth objectives of Tajikistan's poverty reduction strategy, and include strong initiatives to improve governance, as well as continued emphasis on earlier priorities of bank restructuring, privatization, and land reform. Governance measures that Tajikistan aims to undertake are to complete rapid reform of the treasury system, establish a single independent auditing agency to control the efficiency of public finances and eliminate redundant inspection rights, stop the quasi-fiscal operations of the central bank, prevent unjustified interventions of public officials in the operations of private enterprises, and complete public procurement reform. Privatization of medium and large enterprises will continue, and it is expected to raise productivity and support growth targets, as well as aid fiscal goals by bolstering revenues and lowering direct or indirect subsidies.
Tajikistan joined the IMF on April 27, 1993; its quota2 is SDR 87 million (about US$111 million). Tajikistan's outstanding use of IMF credits totals SDR 80.9 million (about US$104 million).