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Press Release No. 04/141
July 9, 2004
International Monetary Fund
700 19th Street, NW
Washington, D.C. 20431 USA

Statement by IMF Managing Director Rodrigo de Rato
on the Occasion of his Visit to Honduras

The Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund, Rodrigo de Rato, made today the following statement in San Pedro Sula:

"It is a great pleasure for me to visit Honduras and also to participate in the Third Regional Conference on Central America, held jointly by the IMF and the Central American Monetary Council. This is my first visit to Latin America as Managing Director, and it indicates our strong commitment to supporting and working with the region. I have had the privilege of meeting with President Ricardo Maduro and, earlier today, had valuable discussions with ministers of finance and central bank presidents from the region. I was impressed by the commitment of the ministers and governors to outward-oriented growth and continued regional and global integration-and by their determination to address the challenges that come with this process, especially assuring that the benefits of globalization are more equitably shared.

"Central America can be proud of its achievements over the past decade. Recent smooth elections in many countries demonstrate the political maturity of the region, that has entered the new millennium with an improved potential to achieve sustained growth and poverty reduction. Macroeconomic policies and reforms in the 1990s have raised growth rates, brought down inflation, and strengthened external positions. This has put the region in a better position to share in the ongoing global recovery, and resist future shocks, while also providing the favorable setting to intensify the reforms needed to sustain economic and social development.

"Thus, fiscal consolidation strategies are key elements of the economic programs in all countries in the region, and finance ministers underscored to me their determination to seek the necessary domestic political consensus for these programs. Central Bank governors also emphasized their commitment to prudent monetary management, and I was particularly reassured by the priority that is being given throughout the region to building sound and efficient financial systems.

"I have asked the senior leaders I met what more the IMF can do to assist the region in achieving its objectives of rapid growth and social development. I assured them that the Fund will continue to be a strong partner in the region's progress. In particular, we intend to further strengthen our close policy dialogue by increasing the regional perspective of our work on Latin America, fostering the exchange of cross-country experiences, and assisting regional policy coordination efforts in core areas such as financial sector supervision, tax policy and administration, and economic statistics. As part of this effort, we intend to increase further our technical assistance to Central America in the coming years. Also, in response to concerns about the declining trend in public investment in Latin America and elsewhere, we have launched a number of pilot studies to assess the scope for accommodating increased public investment within sustainable and macro-economically sound fiscal frameworks. The results of these studies are expected to be discussed by the Fund Executive Board and with member countries' experts early next year, and to be reflected in the future approach of the Fund to policy advice and program design in this area.

"In conclusion, I am optimistic that strong policies and strengthened regional cooperation will allow the region to seize this potential. The IMF is ready to lend its support, and we look forward to continuing our close policy dialogue and collaboration in the years ahead."





IMF EXTERNAL RELATIONS DEPARTMENT

Public Affairs    Media Relations
E-mail: publicaffairs@imf.org E-mail: media@imf.org
Fax: 202-623-6278 Phone: 202-623-7100