IMF Executive Board Concludes the 2013 Article IV Consultation with Côte d'IvoirePress Release No. 13/515
December 16, 2013
On December 6, 2013, the Executive Board of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) concluded the 2013 Article IV consultation with Côte d'Ivoire.1
Côte d’Ivoire is recovering from a long period of economic stagnation and political conflict that culminated in the post-election crisis of end-2010 and early 2011. The conflict caused real per capita income to fall by more than 40 percent from its 1978 peak level, and the poverty rate rose to close to 50 percent, from 37 percent in 1995. Following the post-election crisis, the new government started the process of sociopolitical normalization, and quickly put in place an economic recovery program. This program, which is anchored on the 2012–15 National Development Plan, has been supported by the IMF under the Extended Credit Facility.
The socio-political situation has improved substantially in the last two years, but challenges remain. The country is now administratively reunified and a full election cycle has been completed, while insecurity has declined. Steps have been taken to incorporate former combatants into the security forces and the civil service. Progress towards political reconciliation and restoring social cohesion continues, but remains difficult.
The authorities have made considerable progress toward achieving their objective of boosting medium-term growth to raise living standards and raise the economy’s profile to emerging market status by 2020. Sizable external financial support, including in the form of debt relief as a result of reaching the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) Initiative Completion Point, a large fiscal stimulus, and renewed private sector confidence helped limit the 2011 recession to 4.7 percent and spurred a 9.8 percent rebound in economic growth in 2012. Average inflation declined from 4.9 percent in 2011 to 1.3 percent in 2012. The overall fiscal deficit narrowed from 5.7 percent of GDP in 2011 to 3.4 percent of GDP in 2012. The current account balance moved into deficit, driven by a surge in investment-related imports and the strong economic rebound.
The strong growth momentum has carried forward to 2013, underpinned by strong public investment but also a resumption of private investment. Growth is projected to reach 8.7 percent in 2013, while inflation is expected to remain below the regional convergence criterion of 3 percent. The overall fiscal deficit is expected to further tighten to about 2.7 percent of GDP. Reflecting the economic activity, imports will continue to rise and the external current account to widen, financed by foreign direct investment and other capital inflows.
The authorities are implementing a wide range of structural reforms, notably, to improve the business climate, enhance revenue mobilization and public financial management, strengthen the energy and financial sectors, and reduce poverty.
Executive Board Assessment2
Executive Directors commended Côte d'Ivoire’s good performance under the Fund-supported program. Growth has rebounded, supported by a surge in public investment and an upturn in business and consumer confidence, and inflation has remained moderate. Considerable progress has also been made in structural reforms. While the medium-term economic outlook is positive, Directors underscored that sound policies and reforms continue to be key to the ambitious growth and poverty-reduction objectives of the authorities’ National Development Plan.
Directors commended progress in reducing the fiscal deficit. Continued fiscal prudence remains critical to open up budgetary room for needed infrastructure and social spending. Efforts should be aimed at boosting revenue mobilization, including by curtailing exemptions and broadening the tax base. Putting the wage bill on a sustainable financial path will also be important.
Directors welcomed the authorities’ commitment to reinforce public financial management and take steps to shore up the financial position of the electricity sector.
Directors noted that the banking system is generally sound, but it should be strengthened to broaden financial access and development. They advised the authorities to accelerate implementation of the planned financial sector reform strategy, including a stricter enforcement of prudential regulations and a prompt resolution of troubled public banks.
Directors emphasized the need to preserve external stability through prudent foreign borrowing and debt management. To this end, they looked forward to finalization of a medium-term debt strategy. Regarding the government’s intention to issue a Eurobond, Directors recommended obtaining a sovereign rating prior to issuance and stressed the need to assess carefully market conditions before the bond is issued.
Directors underscored that deeper reforms are necessary to improve the business climate and governance. To attract foreign and domestic investors, priority should be given to strengthening the legal framework and reducing the amount of public procurement granted to non-competitive bids.