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Niger and the IMF

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A Letter to the Editor of The Observer
By Abdoulaye Bio-Tchané
Director, African Department, IMF
August 9, 2005

The following letter was sent to The Observer in response to the August 7 article about Niger, "This is not just another act of God-this is ingrained poverty." The editors did not publish the letter.

To the Editor:

There is absolutely no truth to Tom McRae's assertion that the IMF stood in the way of free food distribution in Niger ("This is not just another act of God-this is ingrained poverty", Aug. 7). The Fund at no time has taken any step that could conceivably have hindered or delayed any actions aimed at alleviating the food shortages in that country. Indeed, the IMF urged the government to take every possible action to meet the needs of its population as the food crisis developed.

The IMF fully supports all government spending aimed at addressing the food crisis and alleviating the effects of the drought. We are working closely with other donors to put in place the funding needed to both deal with the current shortages and to facilitate long-term development. We are prepared to increase Niger's access to Fund financing if grant aid is insufficient. In addition, the IMF has consistently underlined the importance of boosting government spending on irrigation infrastructure in order to bolster Niger's defenses against drought.




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