Statement by IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde at the Conclusion of her Visit to NigerPress Release No. 11/483
December 22, 2011
Ms. Christine Lagarde, Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), made the following statement today in Niamey:
“It is a great pleasure to be in Niamey for my first visit as Managing Director of the IMF. I wish to thank President Mamadou Issoufou, Prime Minister Brigi Rafini, Finance Minister Mahamadou Ouhoumoudou, and the President of the National Assembly Hama Amadou and his colleagues for a warm welcome. This was also an opportunity for me to visit Boubon Village and the rice cooperative in Kollo, where I was greatly impressed by the creativity and the dynamism of the people of Niger.
“In my meetings with the authorities, I welcomed Niger’s ambitions and comprehensive growth strategy toward its long-term development objectives. We had productive discussions on Niger’s economic outlook and well as the challenges to be met. The challenges are serious, as the country is facing pressures posed by the impact of the crisis in Libya, and the decline in agricultural production and rising food shortages in parts of the country. We agreed that the natural resources revenues can be of great help, if these revenues are managed well and channeled toward efficient public investments in infrastructure, agriculture, health and education. The 2012 Budget adopted by the National Assembly is a good start. It is important to create space for critical social spending, while maintaining a sound macroeconomic environment.
“In this context, we agreed that external support will be key for Niger’s ability to weather the impact of these external shocks and to protect the poorest within its population. I’m very pleased to report that the discussions between the authorities and the IMF team have been fruitful, and an agreement has been reached on an economic program for 2012-14. This framework could be supported with SDR 79 million (about US$123 million) under the IMF’s Extended Credit Facility (ECF), subject to approval by IMF management and the Executive Board. Additional support from the donor community will further help build the basis of a sustainable growth.
“The international community must be prepared to do more. Niger is at a critical juncture. The road ahead is not an easy one. The stakes are high; only heightened by today’s global risks. But the opportunity is great, to change course and chart a new feature for all Nigeriens.”