Press Release: Statement by Anoop Singh at the Conclusion of His Visit to Paraguay

December 5, 2006

Press Release No. 06/268

The following statement was released today in Asunción, by Mr. Anoop Singh, Director of the Western Hemisphere Department of the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

"I am very pleased to be today in Asunción. Over the past two days, I have had the privilege of meeting with President Nicanor Duarte-Frutos; Vice-President Luis Alberto Castiglioni; Central Bank President Mónica Pérez dos Santos; Finance Minister Ernst Bergen; other members of the Economic and Social Cabinet; representatives of Congress; the private sector; and civil society.

"The visit provided a valuable opportunity for me to see, first hand, the many improvements in Paraguay's economic and social situation in recent years. Under President Duarte-Frutos's successive economic programs, economic growth has risen to the 3½-4 percent range, and other key macroeconomic and financial indicators have also improved. As a result, Paraguay's economy has been much better placed to take advantage of the favorable global environment. The government's economic policies can take credit for these achievements, especially the strengthening public finances and the central bank's anti-inflationary program, both of which have benefited from institutional improvements. Together with other structural reforms, these policies have brought the public debt down closer to the 30 percent of GDP range.

"Looking ahead, the government is appropriately planning to intensify these efforts, so as to entrench financial stability in Paraguay, and to further integrate its macroeconomic policies with a rising emphasis on poverty and reducing inequities. Toward these ends, the government has prepared an ambitious agenda of fiscal, financial sector, and other institutional reforms, and is extending the recently introduced conditional cash transfer program as part of increased social sector support. I believe there is wide popular consensus for these policies that should increase investment, productivity, and growth in Paraguay's economy over the medium term while putting poverty and inequality indicators on a clear declining trend.

"The IMF has been pleased to support Paraguay's economic program through a Stand-By Arrangement that is precautionary in nature. I have assured the President of our continuing commitment to work with his government to help achieve his vision for the future of Paraguay's economy."


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