Serbia and Montenegro and the IMF
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The Executive Board of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) today approved a stand-by credit of SDR 200 million (about US$249 million) for the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY) through March 31, 2002 in support of the government's economic program. This decision will enable the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia to draw SDR 50 million (about US$62 million) immediately. Three installments of SDR 50 million could follow after the conclusion of quarterly reviews of the program.
Following the Executive Board discussion, Stanley Fischer, First Deputy Managing Director and Acting Chairman, said:
"The FRY authorities have embarked with impressive speed and commitment on the extremely difficult task of reconstructing their devastated economy. Maintaining this momentum will be key to building broad political support for the reform and securing its sustainability.
"The Fund-supported program provides for strong macroeconomic policies coupled with bold structural reforms. Adherence to the program's credit and fiscal targets will be important to reduce inflation and create an environment that is supportive of reform. Significantly, important structural reforms—including the liberalization of the foreign exchange and trade systems, and a radical reform of the fiscal system—have been implemented upfront. Moreover, the authorities have formulated and started to implement a bank resolution strategy in collaboration with the IMF and the World Bank, while a new transparent privatization framework is about to be adopted in the coming weeks.
"In Montenegro, significant institutional reforms have been introduced over the past several years, and the recent adoption of the DM (euro) as its sole legal tender has contributed to financial stability. However, the fiscal situation has worsened this year, which points to the need for strong corrective measures. There is also a need to make progress in bank restructuring and enterprise privatization.
"While the authorities' policy achievements so far have been impressive, their sustainability will critically require that the underlying causes of the macroeconomic imbalances are addressed, by restructuring the banking and enterprise sectors, improving financial discipline in the economy, and restoring fiscal sustainability. The authorities are aware of the challenges and difficult decisions ahead, and have appropriately emphasized the development of an adequate social safety net as a means of maintaining broad support for their reform policies.
"In addition to strong policy efforts by the Yugoslav authorities, progress toward sustainable growth and external viability will require strong support from creditors and donors, and external debt sustainability will not be achieved without concessional debt relief from bilateral creditors. The forthcoming Donor Conference on June 29 will provide the international community the opportunity to demonstrate its support by committing program and project assistance in line with FRY's estimated needs," Mr. Fischer said.
Macroeconomic policies in Serbia will be constrained by the severe demonetization and new burdens on the budget. Fiscal and monetary policies will impose strict limits on credit expansion to the government and the rest of the economy. Specifically, the fiscal program emphasizes reliance on foreign assistance and privatization receipts to meet the new burdens on the budget, and limits the government's recourse to the banking system to the equivalent of 0.6 percent of GDP in 2001. Montenegro is set to implement important policy measures, including on the fiscal front regarding expenditure cuts in the areas of subsidies, investment, and other discretionary spending.
Monetary policy will be geared to lowering inflation. The monetary program for Serbia cautiously assumes a gradual recovery of confidence in the dinar. Exchange rate policy will be reviewed on a quarterly basis owing to uncertainties about underlying external sector developments. In Montenegro, the reliance on the deutsche mark as the sole legal tender will contribute to financial discipline.
On the structural front, Serbia has already implemented a major budget and tax reforms to enhance fiscal efficiency and transparency; liberalized very restrictive foreign exchange and trade systems; freed most prices; generally raised public utility tariffs; and initiated a series of large increases in electricity prices. The Serbian authorities have started to carry out a bank resolution strategy and to improve legal and regulatory framework for privatization, and expect to make significant progress in both these areas during the life of the program. Montenegro intends to continue enterprise privatization, bank restructuring, and further fiscal and trade reforms.
Despite the envisaged strong policy effort and considerable commitments of external assistance, the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia faces a sizable financing gap of about US$10.7 billion in 2001, reflecting both large import needs and external debt servicing obligations (including external debt arrears of US$9.6 billion). The current account deficit (before grants) is projected to widen to 17½ percent of GDP (about US$1.8 billion) in 2001 from 8¼ percent of GDP (about US$700 million) in 2000. The financing gap could be filled partly by program and project assistance, and partly by debt relief.
The Federal Republic of Yugoslavia joined the IMF on December 14, 1992; its quota1 is SDR 467.7 million (about US$583 million). The Federal Republic of Yugoslavia's outstanding use of IMF credits totals SDR 117 million (about US$146 million).
1 A member's quota in the IMF determines, in particular, the amount of its subscription, its voting weight, its access to IMF financing , and its allocation of SDRs.
IMF EXTERNAL RELATIONS DEPARTMENT