Statement by IMF Staff on the 2006 Article IV Consultation with Gabon

Press Release No. 06/48
March 10, 2006

The following statement was issued today in Libreville by a staff mission from the International Monetary Fund (IMF):

"A staff team from the International Monetary Fund, led by Mr. Roger Nord, visited Libreville during February 25—March 9, 2006. The team met with Prime Minister Eyeghé Ndong, Minister of State Toungui, Minister of State Oye Mba, President of the Senate Mr. Rawiri, President of the National Assembly Mr. Nzouba Ndama, and other senior officials of the government to exchange views on recent economic developments and prospects for the Gabonese economy.

"The IMF team noted that the economic program implemented by the Gabonese authorities over the past three years started to bear fruit in 2005. The government restored macroeconomic stability, eliminated external and domestic payment arrears, and introduced far-reaching structural reforms aimed at fostering non-oil growth. There are signs of a broad-based economic recovery: non-oil growth estimated to have reached 4.4 percent in 2005 while inflation remained contained.

"However, the last quarter of 2005 was marked by large budgetary slippages. The mission recognized that some of the excess spending resulted from temporary factors, but it underlined the importance of rapidly reestablishing fiscal discipline without which Gabon's macroeconomic stability would be at risk. High oil prices and temporarily higher government revenue do not change the reality that oil resources are finite and will eventually run out. The mission urged the authorities to seize this opportunity to place its fiscal policy on a permanently sustainable path.

"The mission welcomed the finalization of the PRSP, which sets out clearly the government's strategy to raise economic growth and reduce poverty and provides an opportunity to reorient the investment budget and raise the quality of public investment. The task is now to ensure that the priorities of the PRSP are reflected in the three-year public investment program and in the 2006 investment budget.

"The mission welcomed the government's first report under the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), which is a clear sign of the importance that Gabon attaches to transparency and good governance in the oil sector. It looks forward to further reports in the near future and welcomes the authorities' intention to make them more comprehensive, including by extending them to the mining sector. The mission encouraged the authorities to broaden the range of published documents and to strengthen the dissemination of economic and financial statistics.

"Discussions continued on an economic program that could be supported by the IMF. Further discussions will be held in the coming months on the basis of a sustainable fiscal framework for 2006-08 and the implementation of ongoing structural reforms aimed at strengthening the growth potential of the Gabonese economy."



IMF EXTERNAL RELATIONS DEPARTMENT

Public Affairs    Media Relations
E-mail: publicaffairs@imf.org E-mail: media@imf.org
Fax: 202-623-6220 Phone: 202-623-7100