Transcript of the African Finance Ministers Press Conference

April 12, 2014
Washington DC

Panel:
Manuel Chang, Minister of Finance, Mozambique
Maria Kiwanuka, Minister of Finance, Planning and Economic Development, Uganda –
BEDOUMRA KORDJE, Minister of Finance and Budget, Chad
Ahmed Osman Ali, Governor of the Central Bank of Djibouti, Djibouti:
Simonetta Nardin, IMF Communications Department
Webcast of the press briefing Webcast

MS. NARDIN: Good morning, and welcome to the press conference of the African Ministers.

MR. KORDJE Thank you. I would like to start by thanking the IMF for giving us this opportunity to discuss the situation of our countries. These are rare opportunities, and I would like sincerely to thank the Fund for this opportunity.

My introduction will be very brief, and therefore, I would like to focus on certain issues.

If we talk about Chad today, the first thing that has to be noted is that peace, peace and stability, for several years--Chad has never gone through that for more than 50 years. Our country had to go through domestic turbulence, difficult relationships with certain neighboring countries, and today we find ourselves in a situation of stability, of peace, which is the result of the recognized leadership of President Idriss Deby, and that leadership has reestablished peace, security and national reconciliation.

This is a very important context that has to be underlined, and also as important, and as a result of oil revenues--our country has been producing oil since 2003--it is modest production but for a country which had not that much revenue, this allowed us to make a qualitative jump, a significant one. Today we invest in many areas--infrastructure, social areas--so we had a very strong impulse.

By way of example--roads--in 10 years from 2003 to 2013, we went from 300 kilometers of paved roads to 1,900 kilometers of paved roads. Our GDP also went from $323 to $1,200 per capita. So our country has made significant efforts, and I think it is important to mention--and all this is a result of that significant evolution.

Having said that, we have several challenges to meet, and in particular, we have to continue to maintain peace and stability in a difficult environment.

Regarding all the countries in the Region, as you know, we have a difficult situation in Libya; we have the Darfur issue; and the CAR also--and Boko Haram as well--that we have to deal with and the area of the Chad Lake in the Western part of the country.

So our environment is very difficult, and as a result, we have to make significant efforts. We have to focus on the efforts which are needed, first to maintain stability and then to help countries, countries that are threatened in the Region. You will remember our intervention in Mali, and I would like also to mention the recent intervention in the Central African Republic.

So this is the context. These are the challenges that we have to meet, and it is important that we diversify our economy.

Oil--oil is subjected to certain factors, to the world markets, where the situation is tight, so we have to diversify our economy, and we are working to promote agriculture, which is still the main provider of labor, agriculture and cattle raising, because we have very strong assets in that area.

Today we are discussing with the Fund, and we had a Staff-Monitored Program which ended in December 2013--that is a program without any financing--and the program was successfully completed, and we are negotiating with the Fund a program to receive help from the Extended Credit Facility so that we can reach the Completion Point hopefully later this year.

There were delays, but that was due to exceptional situations, to the instability I mentioned earlier on, but we are on a good path, and this program should help us better prepare ourselves, better prepare the future for our country.

So, short term, we have measures that we are going to implement to promote macro stability, to have good management of public finances, and now we want to focus on areas to promote growth.

The average growth of 8 percent, non-oil growth that we have had in the last few years is going to be maintained, and this year, we should have a two-digit growth rate.

All of that will allow us to look at the future with optimism. We have two new oil fields that will be operational this year, and we think that by next year, we should be in a position to have higher-level investment, and we should be able to focus on priority investments which are very important. So we count on the Fund to help us review issues such as the indebtedness of HIPC countries. This is by way of introduction, and I thank you for the opportunity.

MS. NARDIN: you, Minister. Mr. Chang? There is also interpretation from Portuguese.

MINISTER CHANG: Along the lines that my colleague was describing, the situation of the country, I wanted to indicate our satisfaction from the fact that, in the last decade, the Sub-Saharan African countries had a focus on economic development, bringing to the Region an experience of economies that most grow in the world, bringing many countries to increase their development and common prosperity. In this way, Mozambique continues to create above 7 percent in the last ten years--just ten years to make it simple, because actually it's more. This means the consolidation of macroeconomic stability.

We have been controlling inflation, also. This indicator has been kept below one digit, and in the area of one digit, and our hope is to keep that way. The growth in 2014 is expected to reach 8 percent, even taking into consideration the floods that have been scourging our country with impact in the reduction of growth. This year, they are flooding the North Country. We're checking on the impact that might be on the agriculture, even in social sectors like health and education.

On May 29-30 the Government of Mozambique and the International Monetary Fund are organizing an international conference, Africa Rising, with the presence of all the Governors of the World Bank and the IMF. WE will analyze this strong economic development that Africa is reaching We also take this occasion to talk about the resilience of the African countries to the shocks in terms of international price and calamitous situations, and we will check the main challenges of the economic policies that are conducted by these countries, including creating growth through better quality of life by creating jobs, care for the youth, access to health and sanitation, and improved infrastructure.

When we are in Maputo May 29 and 30, we will be discussing how to find a way to solve these situations in which we live to solve the many challenges to Africa.

Another point that will be discussed is the question of transformation of the robust growth that we have had in the Continent for a robust and inclusive growth with better creation of jobs, the income distribution issues, promotion of jobs, improvement to access of health and education, basic sanitation.

Mozambique, at this time, has a Policy Support Instrument (PSI) with the IMF. According to the policies designed by the government, and following the recommendations of the IMF, Mozambique is clear about what sectors it needs to help to reduce the levels of poverty. We said that social sectors, education, health, infrastructure, electricity, roads, dams, et cetera, these are the areas that require the better part of our budget, 65 percent of the government funds are channeled to these sectors. The results are visible in reducing poverty, but we also saw that we need to see other sectors that might help us in the growth area, especially energy. The country has many advantages, the railways and ports connecting the cities to the hinterland, the agriculture possibilities that we have with many traditional products that we grow. We have tourism; we now have the discovery of natural resources in carbon and gas.

What we want to continue to do is continue with the other sectors, even if we have--explore even further the natural resources to develop all those sectors.

As an experience, we have been looking at what other countries have done in exploring these resources. We are--the coal explorations, but the great challenges of Africa are the infrastructure that is the flow of coal from the production area to transportation and exporting. We now have the conducting works to connect the Behada, Makalah, Maputo Ports. And regarding gas, we are still exploring to see, as soon as possible, when we can start this exploration.

MS. NARDIN: Thank you very much. And now, for the Governor of the Central Bank of Djibouti, please.

MR. ALI: I want to thank the IMF for giving us the opportunity to talk about Djibouti. And as you know, Djibouti is a small country in Eastern Africa at the entrance of the Red Sea, and we have one million inhabitants. We are between Ethiopia, Eritrea and Somalia. So, you know currently the situation. So, we are in a geographical region, which is difficult, and particularly given what's happening in Somalia, the regime issues that you know, and for the last 20 years there's been a deterioration in Djibouti for all these years, has tried to help the nature to try to organize conferences, to try to put that big country back onto its feet, and it's a major partner.

But we have also challenges that we have to meet for our own development and in the last few years, we made significant efforts to develop the country, with the help of development partners, with the Fund in particular, with whom we finished in 2013 a program that was successfully completed.

We have, on the macro standpoint, interesting figures, like in other countries in Africa, we have a growth rate of about 5 percent, we have an inflation which is under control, and it's about 2.5 percent in 2013 after 3 percent a year before, a fiscal deficit which is controlled, 0.5 percent in 2013. Growth outlook, also, it is very favorable, and in particular, owing through major regional projects in Djibouti, but which can be used by other countries in the region. We are talking about harbors being built. We built a new deep water port a few years ago and it boosted the economy and it helped a better development also in Ethiopia because it facilitated the exports for the neighboring countries.

We have other projects. We are building new harbors to export cattle. We have another project in the north of the country on the other side of the Gulf. It is a small, like, a mile--the northern part of the country is receiving investment, but we want to start major projects, infrastructure projects, and that's--we're going to build a potassium export harbor, a new railway in the north, and we want to rebuild the north--the railway which was used in the past and it's being upgraded.

So, all these projects will enable the country to have a significant growth, about 4-5 percent next year, and we intend to continue our efforts in terms of reforms so that we can maintain the aggregates, the growth rate, so that we can fight unemployment and so that we can also address poverty in the country.

Djibouti shares the same characteristics as other countries in Africa. We have a very young population, high unemployment, but there is solidarity- socially and internationally that helps us fight unemployment.

This year, we implemented a series of reforms, including the banking sector, and the banking sector was able to develop. We went from two banks about seven, eight years ago to about eleven banks today. With the introduction of Islamic banking, about three Islamic banks which are in Djibouti, and every year we have a conference on Islamic banking to try to promote and to raise capitals and to sensitize investors that are looking into that.

These developments are based on a political will. For a long time, we have seen, given our limited resources in terms of resources, our prosperity had to go through regional integration, and had to go through, indeed, COMESA, which is a market of more than 450 million inhabitants.

So, we had to promote integration and we had to promote infrastructure, and we've been working on that for several years, and these projects are progressing very well, and we have, as I said, built several harbors, and these are new investments that are very important, new investments in communication, as well.

Djibouti, there are six submarine cables going through Djibouti. So, Djibouti is connected to the rest of the world. So, we can have communication with the rest of the region [… interruption] and this allows us to import power cheaper. We are going to find the financing that we need for a second line to connect with Europe, and this will allow us not only to ensure energy provides--into Djibouti, but we are going to reduce the cost for energy so that the SMEs will have electricity and the Port of Djibouti will be also electrified and we hope that that will help them reduce a level of unemployment.

We also have another project almost over, 80 kilometers in Djibouti, Pakisal, and the in the midterm, we will have 5,000 kilowatts. Of course, I would be glad to answer any questions you may have.

MS. NARDIN: Thank you, Mr. Governor. The Minister from Uganda, Maria Kiwanuka.

MINISTER KIWANUKA: Thank you very much. Uganda lies in the heart of Africa. It's in the middle of the East African Region. We are bordered by five countries: Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi, and South Sudan, as well as Eastern DRC.

Our broad policies are characterized by strong macroeconomic stability with liberalized markets, which help us to deal with external shocks of recent times and strengthen our external position.

In addition, we have significantly strengthened our public financial management system, which is expected to improve budget execution, transparency, and cash management, as we continue to emphasize our new mantra, which is value for money spent in the public arena, not so much value of the money spent, but value for money spent.

Our public debt remains sustainable, with a debt-to-GDP ratio of about 29 percent, and a low risk of debt stress. We have also introduced into Parliament a new law on public financial management, which emphasizes personal accountability of accounting officers for the money--public monies that are spent under their vote.

Operationalization of a contingency fund to deal with unforeseen natural disasters and emergencies, and continuation of a unitary budget system which will also incorporate the oil resources from our oil reserves that are about to start production.

The biggest challenge for Uganda, as in many other African countries, is the infrastructure gap. To this effect, there are several projects under way and massive investments that have been planned. The development of our roads and modernization of the railway system is in progress on an East African level to improve the transport sector.

For instance, the Northern Corridor Road and Railway system, which stretches from Mombasa in Kenya to Kampala and through Rwanda, has recently undergone efficiency improvement whereby, without any investment in steel or bricks or whatever, we have been able to bring down the transit time of goods from Mombasa to Uganda from over 20 days to five days.

In addition, we are constructing two big hydropower dams that will effectively double our hydropower capacity and greatly improve the electricity supply and reliability across our country.

The other major challenge we are tackling is our low agricultural productivity. Uganda is blessed with a very good agricultural climate with two growing seasons a year and the best soil fertility in the Region. We are a net food exporter to the Region and to overseas. However, low agricultural productivity has meant that, although the sector employs as many as 70 percent of the total workforce, it is not yet providing 30 percent of GDP. We're looking to the agricultural sector to drive inclusive growth and contribute to further reducing rural poverty. Our rural poverty figures recently dropped from over 28 percent and now are at 22 percent. This has been accomplished over the last five years partly due to an aggressive drive in extending agricultural roads, extending rural transmission electrification lines, and improving the big irrigation projects.

Under my watch alone of the last two years, I have signed projects to roll out 2,000 kilometers of electrification. We are therefore dedicating a lot of resources to modernization of our infrastructure to further reduce the cost of doing business in Uganda.

Going forward, remain focused on our two objectives: A, to become and remain the agricultural bread basket of East Africa; concentrating on exporting staple foods to the Region as well as luxury food items overseas.

We also aim to be the distribution hub. When goods into the seaports of Mombasa and Dar es Salaam, the quickest and cheapest way to South Sudan, the eastern part of DRC, and Rwanda is still through Uganda. So, we intend to improve our warehousing and our logistical capacity, as well as all the infrastructure investments we are undergoing.

In order to do this, the government will continue to play the key role to ensure macroeconomic stability for investors to plan and to be confident the economy is properly managed.

We will also continue to invest in infrastructure. Our budgets are focused on investing in infrastructure to address this constraint of doing business in Uganda, both on a national level and a regional level as members of the East African community.

The third area the government is emphasizing is to enhance agricultural production and productivity, as the mainstay of the economy and with the aim of making sure each smallholder farmer becomes a small businessman or woman.

However, we intend to do all this through the private sector, which is responsible for over 80 percent of our economy. The government will concentrate on keeping the macroeconomic stability on providing the infrastructure, those bulky goods that private investors don't wish to address, and enhancing the human resource capacity of our people to provide labor to the upcoming industries.

To this effect, our petroleum revenues will be dedicated to building infrastructure. Uganda is a country with a very young population. Therefore, our need is for job creation rather than pension provision. So, all monies coming from our oil and gas revenues will be invested through our budget, duly appropriated by the Parliament of Uganda in our infrastructure program over the next year. This will take care of the general aspects--"What did you do with the oil money, Daddy, Mommy, Grandpa?" Look at the roads, look at the bridges, and look at the power facilities.

It will also help accelerate development across the country.

The oil revenues will be very much a part of the overall Ugandan economy; they will not be a parallel economy.

The oil exploitation, economic diversification, a strengthened business climate, and prospects of further improving our governance while maintaining favorable debt sustainability and poverty reduction underpin our favorable medium-term outlook. Our growth is expected at 5.7 percent in this financial year and 6 percent in the next financial year, trending to 7 percent in the medium term.

With the support of the International Monetary Fund under a new PSI program, we have developed a strong economic program to underpin this outlook, maintaining macroeconomic stability, reforms achieving broad-based growth in agriculture and services, and generating employment, eradicating poverty, and strengthening our public financial management.

On the regional basis, we are working together with the other countries in the East Africa Region on improving the network of regional roads, railways, ports, inland ports, and allocating support to the oil production. We are in this together with Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda and Burundi.

Our integration is in full effect, and the Monetary Union Protocol was signed by our five heads-of-state at the end of last year. It provides a 10-year road map to Monetary Union of the five East African countries.

This greater integration, which will constitute a population of 150 million people and a combined GDP of more than $100 billion, will sustain the economic growth and boost efficiency through exploitation of synergies and economies-of-scale.

Our payment system integration to speed up cross-border payments and spur interregional trade and marketing East Africa as a one-investment and tourism destination through a single tourism visa has already been launched.

Implementation of Customs Union is in high gear, and elimination of nontariff barriers, such as axle loads and different electronic platforms for payment of customs, have been addressed.

Given the large and critical financing needs of Uganda and the Region, particularly for infrastructure, we emphasize the adoption of a flexible and non-intrusive operational system that is easy to implement and monitor without constraining our county's need to secure adequate external financing to address our development needs.

Therefore, we urge the IMF and our development partners and other international financial institutions and the private sector to partner with us in terms of technical and financial capacity building and other forms of assistance that will help us consolidate our considerable gains over the last 10 years, when Uganda was one of the 10 fastest-growing countries in the world, to help us build our infrastructure and transform our economy.

Thank you.

MS. NARDIN: Thank you very much, Madame Kiwanuka. We will now open for questions. Please state your name and your media organization, and if you have a specific question for a specific Minister, please say so.

QUESTIONNER: I would like to ask the Ministers, all of you--you have very important, major international companies looking to make major investments in all your countries. but my question is--we have seen a failure, a complete failure, by private sector bankers, investment bankers, to take these opportunities--is it now time for the World Bank and IFC to do aggressive origination of deals, cut out Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs, who refuse to come to these markets--they want to remain in London and New York--and have IFC and the World Bank and the IMF become the lawyers and the bankers on both the sell and buy sides to get these important projects done?

Your oil ministers have told the oil companies to please invest--both Mozambique, your oil company, and Uganda oil ministers have said please ask the oil companies to invest in the non-natural resources, in telecoms, become a private equity.

It looks like there is no longer any time in Africa to wait for the bankers and do their jobs. We have some bankers here, but they are never on the ground.

MINISTER CHANG: Vis-à-vis Mozambique, the government is responsible for financing public infrastructure, and it has not been enough; in this sense, I would agree with you that the needs that we have in the country, even considering just the public sector, we don't find an answer. We try to attract private investment, national and foreign, and we are also working in the cases where the case has a partner to find PPPs. This is what we want to find as a solution to our problems.

It is necessary for us to find a way to better attract this investment. We are doing everything in terms of legislation and benefits. We are doing everything in order to attract that capital, but as you mentioned, it has not been easy. So I think that all of us here are being called to join forces and bring these investments to cover the needs of the African countries.

MINISTER KIWANUKA: I would like to give you a small case study of the standard-gauge railway project that we are developing from Mombasa through Kenya up to Uganda and Rwanda. The government has taken it upon themselves to prepare the project for financing. We are receiving assistance from the World Bank and ADB in preparing the project not just for costing but also a financing package which will then be presented to the private investors with the appropriate safeguards for their investments, for them to come into what will be an extended PPP arrangement.

Similarly, in the oil sector, we have the private oil companies going into production at their expense and profit, while the government has signed with the World Bank--we are hoping to negotiate--a project to develop the Albertine region, which means doing the master planning and the spatial planning, and then the private sector will come in to provide support services to the oil industry.

So I think it is a case of for each, their own--the government provides the macroeconomic framework, the assurance for investors as to continuity of the landscape, and the government has to provide the public goods that are bulky, high up-front cost, and where the benefits do not accrue just to the financer but to the person using the product, which is not very favorable to the private sector objectors.

So the government is providing the infrastructure, taking responsibility for taking the lead on infrastructure, on roads, power, water, and educating the work force.

Then, the private sector is supported to come in with the skills and the money to address productivity.

It is work in progress, it is a continuing task, and I think a press conference such as this is very useful in promoting and bringing to the attention of global investors and our own local investors the opportunities that lie in helping Africa, helping Uganda, transform our economies.

MINISTER ALI: I think it is a very good question. It helps us understand how things develop and what types of solutions we provide to meet the different needs. Our needs are huge in terms of investment in Africa. In general, Africans are not wealthy, but we have huge, huge obligations and responsibilities. We have to educate, health is needed, and huge challenges have to be met.

The path that we are following, like in many countries in Africa, is that we try to facilitate FDI, working on legislation, working on guarantees, working on transparency, et cetera.

So that work that we have been doing in Djibouti for several years is bearing fruit because we are having investment in telecommunication, in transportation, in the construction of harbors, also in the management of our ports. So the PPP policy is bearing fruit.

MINISTER KORDJE: I think it is a major issue, and I would even say that it is the main, the most important issue, because the government cannot do everything. We know that economic growth, job creation, is a matter of private sector.

There is no doubt about it. It is a challenge that is real--we are fully aware--and the effort that we are making aims at attracting more private sector participation.

Given the environment that we had to go through--and people were really impacted given the crises and conflicts--our activity was very slow, but in the case of Chad, we have the telecommunication sector that you talked about; we have private businesses; we launched an RFP to privatize the public network, which is not performing well. We are also attracting investors for the mining sector in Chad. And significantly, the government today is the major investor in all the areas. But we intend to improve the situation to have enabling conditions so that there are more investors.

We are also working regionally with CEMAC in order to improve the financial sector, because it is very important, so that we can raise more financial resources which are needed. So we fully agree. It is a challenge--it is a real challenge--and we count on everyone's support to really make the private sector the main engine of growth and the main engine of job creation.

MS. NARDIN: Let me take two questions at a time. I am mindful of the time because there is another press conference here at noon.

QUESTIONNER: My question goes to any one of the Finance Ministers or the central bank Governor. When will we as Africans take our destiny into our hands? I ask because you are here finding solutions to the problems of unemployment, financial inclusion and things like that--yet we keep our money, our foreign reserves, in foreign banks in Europe and other continents; yet interest rates in our countries continue to be so high, and it is making it impossible for people to have access to cheap money to set up businesses that can generate goods, that can create employment for large numbers of people.

In Nigeria, for instance, you are asked sometimes for as high as 23 percent for a loan, and the tenure is so short. So, how long can you invest that money and recoup the money and pay it back? So it is very, very difficult, yet we continue to keep this money outside, in foreign reserves, and we come back to collect this money at some very high, exorbitant rates, as loans from these countries. I think it is not helping Africa.

There is a step that has been taken that maybe part of our reserves should be kept maybe in the African Development Bank or the African Finance Corporation which has not even fully taken off. What are you people doing as a group to see that we have this money in our continent so we can give it out at cheaper rates?

MS. NARDIN: Thank you. Let's take a question here.

QUESTIONNER: I am sort of following up on the point that the previous speaker made. We know that financing infrastructure is an absolutely prerequisite to economic development. And you look to the normal suspects--you look to the World Bank, you look to the IMF, you look to the ADB. But there is a significant amount of capital being formulated in Africa from the extractive industry and from the energy industry. To what extent is that money being aggregated in the sovereign wealth funds and that money being used to finance the critical infrastructure which benefits all of Africa, not just one country?

QUESTIONNER: My question centers on power. Africa at present is lit up by just 3 percent, and for us to transit from a continent of raw materials to one of finished goods, we need power. And we hardly have sufficient [unclear] or efforts in that direction. We have Obama committing $7 billion; other countries or agencies are making some commitments that are not feasible within time, with [unclear] and others.

What are we doing in that direction? And also in our partnerships and collaborations--we have the AGOA that is not benefitting most production in Africa because of the quality of production, no infrastructure base to ensure standards and the right quality to ensure that our goods will be able to penetrate the international market, thereby making it difficult for us to have return on investment. So what are the African leaders doing in that direction?

MS. NARDIN: I will ask maybe two Ministers to answer, and then we will take another round.

MS. KIWANUKA: As far as Africa's destiny is concerned, the approach we have taken in Uganda, and I know that some other countries are also taking the same approach, is to assist on value-added production in-country.

I will give you our petroleum resources as an example again. As part of the exploitation and production of petroleum in Uganda, we are going to build a refinery in Uganda which will be supplying the East Africa Region with petroleum products. This caused some delay in the signing of the final production memoranda while business conferences were going back and forth between the government and the private sector producers, but this has now been determined.

So, more and more, the governments are moving to ensure that minerals and other natural resources are processed or at least semi-processed in-country.

The same with coffee. Uganda is the second-biggest producer of coffee in Africa. We are moving to make sure we get coffee roasting factories in-country, so the coffee goes out as Ugandan coffee--and does not go out as coffee beans and come back as coffee from another country.

About financing and helping fund smallholders, the small people, we are making sure we take full advantage of the technological innovations such as mobile money, to make sure that this platform is not used just for receiving and withdrawing money, but to offer financial products to the people in the rural areas who have remained largely un-banked due to overhead concerns. This is an area, again, where we are working with the private sector, with credit card companies and with banks to see how we can roll this out, because as they say, a small entrepreneur who is well-versed in financial literacy, and if you can improve on the financial inclusion, you get the local money moving.

Infrastructure financing--I mentioned earlier that we will use out petroleum resources to finance our infrastructure gap, and I think other countries are also moving to ensure they do that.

ADB I am sure will be happy to talk to you about their current proposal to put up an infrastructure fund for developing infrastructure in Africa, to which the governments of African countries will also be contributing.

In power, we have a very extensive interconnection system currently in place and planned for Uganda together with Kenya, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Rwanda and Burundi, where we are using our different hydro resources, our wind resources, and our geothermal resources in the different countries to bring them together on one grid which then supplies power to the different countries. So that is how we are hoping to address the power gap in East Africa, and I know there are also ambitious programs in West Africa and Southern Africa.

MINISTER CHANG: As the Minister from Uganda was explaining, there is also the question of the cost of money in Africa. She made a reference to the interest rates.

We should invest more in our--I completely agree, as we know, money appears as merchandise, more availability we have; better the decision on the cost of this money. So, I think that the line that he indicated is exactly what we should do in our country.

We don't have the situation because, fortunately, we don't have availability that's above and beyond what we need. We have a lot more projects to implement, and we're using the forms of financing that I referred to. First, concession financing with at least 35 percent when we want to finance infrastructure, only recurring to commercial financing in very well-defined projects with defined return, and especially for energy and transportation. These are the cases that are different, and within the limits defined in our financial programs.

Regarding the question of financing to the economy, compared to mineral resources, I also agree with the Minister that just spoke, because we need to have the capacity when we negotiate financing in concessions to see how much the country can make on these concessions and what to do with the yield of these mineral resources. When we have this, we will be able to prioritize financing to the more traditional sectors, for example, agriculture, which is the basis of development for our country. We should try to drive agriculture, fisheries, energy, tourism, et cetera.

MS. NARDIN: I'm sorry. They are pressing us for coming in. There is a press conference that starts in one minute, here. Thank you very much, Thank you.



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