Statement by an IMF Staff Mission at the Conclusion of a Visit to Niger

Press Release No. 08/229
October 2, 2008

An International Monetary Fund (IMF) mission led by Emilio Sacerdoti, mission chief for Niger, visited Niger during September 16-October 2, 2008 to conduct the discussion for the Article IV consultation and the first review of the authorities' program supported by the Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility (PRGF) arrangement. The mission met with the Minister of Economy and Finance, Mr. Ali Mahaman Lamine Zeine, the National Director of the Central Bank of Western African States, Mr. Oumarou Gagere, senior staff of a number of ministries, representatives of the private sector and civil society, and the donor community.

The mission issued the following statement in Niamey on October 2, 2008:

"During the first half of 2008 economic activity was sustained by robust private and public sector investment, while favorable rains in recent months are likely to lead to a bumper crop. As a result, real GDP is projected to grow by 5.9 percent this year, up from 3.3 percent in 2007. Increases in imported petroleum and food prices have led to an acceleration of consumer price inflation in the year to August 2008, but inflation should decline significantly in the coming months because of the expected good harvest. The mission welcomes the targeted food assistance programs carried out by the authorities, with donor assistance, to alleviate the impact of higher food prices on vulnerable groups. Budgetary expenditure and revenue were in line with the program in the first half of the year and performance under the program has been satisfactory, on the whole.

"The mission discussed with the authorities the prospects for 2009. The authorities have expressed their intention to allocate in the 2009 budget the large exceptional revenue received in 2008 to finance priority programs in infrastructure and social sectors in line with the Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP). While the mission expressed its broad agreement with the proposed budget, it cautioned the authorities to review carefully the key investment projects before bringing them to the implementation phase.

"The mission welcomed the continued implementation of structural reforms in financial management and the financial sector, and underscored the importance for further determined actions in these areas. Particular attention will be given under the program to strengthen public finance management and streamline the tax regime, so as to facilitate private sector activity, and to measures aimed at improving the business climate.

"With the continued implementation of the policies under the program and subject to approval by IMF management, it is expected that the IMF's Executive Board will discuss the first review of Niger's program under the PRGF in November/December 2008."



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