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

Press Release No. 08/50
March 13, 2008

An International Monetary Fund (IMF) mission led by Emilio Sacerdoti, mission chief for Niger, issued the following statement in Niamey on March 11, 2008:

"An IMF mission visited Niger during February 26-March 11, 2008 to conduct the sixth and last review under the current Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility (PRGF) arrangement, which expires at end-May 2008, and to discuss a new three-year program for 2008-2011 supported by a new PRGF arrangement. The mission met with the Minister of Economy and Finance, Mr. Ali Lamine Zeine.

"The mission and the authorities reached an understanding subject to final approval on a program to be supported by a new PRGF arrangement for the period 2008-11.

"The performance under the PRGF-supported program in 2007 was good, and all quantitative and structural performance criteria for end-year were met, with the exception of a small slippage in the reduction of domestic arrears. Economic performance in 2007 was satisfactory, with GDP growth estimated at about 3.2 percent, somewhat lower than in 2006 when cereal production had reached record levels. Inflation, after a decline in 2006, picked up in the last months of 2007, as a result of higher cereal and petroleum product prices. Exports were buoyed by sharply higher prices for uranium, the main export commodity, and the external current account deficit declined.

"Budgetary performance was strong, with tax and non tax revenue exceeding the targets, while expenditure remained somewhat below target. In particular non tax revenues were boosted by proceeds received in late 2007 from sales of new uranium mining concessions rights and a telecom license. The government has decided to allocate these additional revenues to spending for priority development expenditures, including health, education, roads and irrigation, but also for needed security outlays, in a supplementary budget to be submitted shortly to the National Assembly.

"The program for 2008-11 aims at sustaining growth in line with the recently approved Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP) for 2008-12, strengthening the management of public finances to ensure macrostability and a better integration of expenditures with the PRSP, further widening of the tax base, and enhancing structural reforms to improve the investment climate and facilitate access to financial services. The program should contribute to increase donor support."



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