Transcript of IMF Press Briefing

September 16, 2021

MR. RICE: Hey, good morning everyone, welcome to this briefing on behalf of the International Monetary Fund, I am Gerry Rice of the Communications Department. This briefing is embargoed till 10:30 a.m., as per usual. Great to see everybody online. We’ve had a bit of a summer hiatus. So, I hope we’re coming back and finding everyone safe and well. I’ll turn to your questions. I see colleagues on the screen already and some questions coming in online. I’ll turn to them very shortly.

So, as I said, we’re coming back after a little bit of a break over the summer, not much of a break. As you may have seen, the IMF was pretty busy, including, in the month of August, the approval of the general allocation of Special Drawing Rights in the amount of $650 billion. That was completed in the month of August, and indeed those Special Drawing Rights, those SDRs, distributed to the membership, so, a bit of a historic decision there, which we hope will help our member countries and the global economy in the midst of this crisis.

Let me mention a few upcoming things because we’re heading into that very busy period that many of you are familiar with. It’s the UN General Assembly, it’s the Curtain Raiser for the Annual Meetings, and then, of course, the Annual Meetings, themselves. Tomorrow, a bit more immediately, Kristalina Georgieva, the Managing Director, will be speaking at a panel discussion on investment funds and financial stability. That’s an IMF departmental paper that’s being issued. We’ll have our Financial Counselor, Tobias Adrian, there, the Governor of the Bank of England, and many other dignitaries. That’s tomorrow, at 8:00, and you’re welcome to be there. And then, as I said, we move into the UNGA, next week, the UN General Assembly.

And, again, the Managing Director will be participating in a number of events on September the 21st, so, that’s next Tuesday, at 8:15 a.m. She’ll be with Jeff Sachs at Columbia University, the Earth Institute’s Conference on Sustainable Development, that’s their annual conference, so, with Jeff Sachs, September 21st. And on September 22nd, the Managing Director has been invited by President Biden to speak at the Global COVID-19 Summit, that the United States is hosting, Ending the Pandemic: Building Back Better. As you probably know, Heads of State, international organizations, business, philanthropic groups, and so on, civil society. That’s on September the 22nd, so, that’s next Wednesday, that Global Summit. And on September 24th, again, UNGA related, she will be speaking at the High-Level Dialogue on Energy, organized by the Secretary General.

Later this month, September 27th, we can get you more information on that, the Managing Director will be speaking at the International Conference on Enhancing Digital and Global Infrastructure in Cross Border Payments, so, the digital money issue. And the next day, September 28, she’ll be delivering the opening remarks at the Financing for Development Event on Jobs, Social Protection, and Poverty Eradication. Kristalina Georgieva is busy. So are our other Deputy Managing Directors.

Just to mention a few things, I’m not going to mention everything, but our First Deputy Managing Director, Geoffrey Okamoto will be at the Forum on National Affairs, hosted by the State Council of China, to discuss China’s post-pandemic growth, September 23. On September 29, our newly appointed Deputy Managing Director, Mr. Bo Li, will be with Mark Sobel, who is the Chairman, U.S. Chairman, at the Official Monetary and Financial Institutions Forum, at its symposium, Revolutionizing Finance for Net Zero. That is September 29, and that’s Bo Li. And then, our Deputy Managing Director, Antoinette Sayeh, will be in a panel on the Post-Pandemic Assessment of the Sustainable Development Goals on September 29th. She’ll be there with representatives from the UN, the European Commission, and others. And Antoinette’s also doing an event on the next day, September 30th, a High-Level Policy Dialogue on Embedding Climate Change into Asia’s Recovery Strategy.

I think I’ll leave it there. That’s plenty to be going on with. As I said, we’re just beyond the UN General Assembly, heading into the Annual Meetings. Kristalina’s Curtain Raiser Speech, which, for those of you who followed the Fund, you know what that is, raising the curtain on the Annual Meetings. That’s going to be on October 5th at Bocconi University, in Milan. In case you don’t know, I think you all do know, but let me just repeat for the purposes of clarity. The Annual Meetings this year are going to be in a hybrid format, meaning there will be small numbers of official country delegates here, at IMF Headquarters, very small numbers of official delegates, but all events, all public events, including media events, press conferences, and so on, will be virtual. There will be no physical presence for those things. So, that’s the hybrid model that we’ll be following for the Annual Meetings. Happy to follow up with you on that, if you have any further questions.

Hey, look, with that, let me thank you for sticking with me for those announcements and turn to your questions. And let’s start. Good morning, in New York. Let’s start with you.

QUESTIONER: Sure, thank you. Great, thanks a lot, and it’s been a while. So, I’ll do -- try to do these fast. I wanted to know, with the crew in Guinea, whether the IMF -- what your thoughts are and what your approach is. I think there’s been some issues around tax reporting and mining. But what posts coup what’s your -- what’s the plan? And also, on Ukraine, they’re saying that they expect it at the second tranche, despite some controversy of whether they’d moved far enough on judicial reform. And I wanted to ask also on, then, on cryptocurrency. They’ve, since we last spoke, they have legalized and regulated cryptocurrency, and they say they’re going to use their nuclear power plants to encourage mining. Has the IMF’s thinking on that changed at all? And just finally, on Venezuela, you made an announcement about these opening up of SDRs. Is that tied to the Mexico talks, and what is the -- what’s the role of the opposition in actually drawing those down and implementing them? Thanks a lot.

MR. RICE: Okay, thanks. That’s a bundle of stuff there. Let me try and pick up on them.

So, on Guinea, I don’t have a great deal for you. We’re obviously -- events are unfolding there, and closely monitoring it and urging a peaceful resolution, of course, as soon as possible. We completed, you know, the fifth and sixth reviews under the program there, last December. That was a while ago, now. We did try to help Guinea, as many other countries, during the, well, with the pandemic, and we had a Rapid Credit Facility to help them deal with the virus. But, in terms of where we are right now, we’re watching and monitoring the situation.

You asked about Ukraine. The status of that is -- I can give you a little bit of news there. A virtual review mission is planned for Ukraine to take place later this month. The specific dates will be announced as usual, closer to the start of the mission but later this month, the month of September. And, you know, just in terms of the status where we are with Ukraine, we did say earlier in the summer that we will be working with the authorities on remaining issues where agreements needed for us to complete the review of the ongoing program with Ukraine. And, again, there’s going to be a mission where these things will be discussed, but we’ve been focusing, as I’ve said here before, on issues related to strengthening the governance and autonomy of the National Bank of Ukraine, judicial reform, restoring and strengthening the anti-corruption framework and , as well as, you know -- the fiscal position -- ensuring a sustainable fiscal position, and so on. So, again, the mission will be going virtually and we’ll access progress in these and other areas which are, of course, important to the authorities’ objectives under this program where we’re looking to support Ukraine.

You asked about El Salvador. And we had talked about that before and given our view on the adoption of the bitcoin as legal tender. And on the status of where we are then with El Salvador, we are continuing the discussions on the Article IV, and we expect these to conclude in the period ahead, in the coming months, and the potential of an IMF program for El Salvador is also under discussion. And, again, the objectives of that are clear, growth, financial stability, and so on. But, again, on the specific, the bitcoin issue, I think we’ve been fairly clear in our public statements.

Your last question was on Guinea, I think.

QUESTIONER: No, it was Venezuela and the Mexico talks. But thanks a lot. I don’t want to take up too much of your time, just if you have any --

MR. RICE: That’s fine. On Venezuela -- sorry, I’ve already spoke to you about Guinea. On Venezuela, you know, we welcome all dialogue that would seek to resolve the political stalemate in Venezuela and create the conditions to address Venezuela’s humanitarian crisis, of course, which we are concerned about. And as we’ve said here before, regarding Venezuela’s relations with the IMF, as is always the case, we’re guided by the views of the international community, by our membership; and there’s currently a lack of clarity within the international community regarding recognition of a government in Venezuela. So, as a consequence, Venezuela cannot access IMF resources at this point, including the SDR allocation. And, again, we’ve talked about that before.

Let me move on. Thank you for those questions.

QUESTIONER: Hi. Thank you for doing this. I wanted to ask you today about Afghanistan. How do you see the situation there? What happens to the IMF aid and assistance and ongoing projects in Afghanistan? Since now we don’t have a government there which has been recognized by any country of the world. What is the IMF view and the status on those projects? Do you recognize the Taliban government as of now?

MR. RICE: Thank you. You know, the first thing I’d like to say, again, we’re deeply concerned with the difficult economic situation in Afghanistan and the humanitarian situation in Afghanistan; and we’ve said the immediate focus should indeed be on that humanitarian situation, aid to help the Afghanistan people; and allowing the flow of remittances and small-scale transfers; and providing assistance to countries hosting Afghan refugees.

In terms of the IMF, which you were asking about, again, similar to what I just said previously regarding the other country case, our engagement with Afghanistan has been suspended until there is clarity within the international community on the recognition of the government. We’re guided by the international community in terms of the recognition of the government in Afghanistan and we don’t have that. So, the IMF program there, which you asked about, has been put on hold; and, again, as we said, last month, the country cannot access IMF resources, SDRs, and so on, at this point. But, again, I want to say that we stand ready to work with the international community to advocate for urgent actions to stall a looming humanitarian crisis. So, thank you very much for your question.

I’m going to turn shortly to questions online, but let me -- are there any other questions from colleagues on screen? I see you. Okay. I’ll take your questions.

QUESTIONER: Okay, can you hear me?

MR. RICE: Yes, sir.

QUESTIONER: Okay, very good; thank you. I have a few questions, given that we haven’t had this venue for questions in a while. It’s great to see everyone and be back from summer. I wanted to ask, first of all, on Ukraine. I understand, you know, your comments that the virtual mission will be meeting later this month. I wanted to ask if you have any more specificity there on the timing. The prime minister of Ukraine said that the country has met all of the conditions to unlock it’s $5 billion loan from the IMF. Wanted to ask if that’s accurate and, if not, what are the outstanding issues? Although you did just mention some. Ukrainian authorities said that before they would seek to -- they have said previously that they would seek to extend the current program beyond ’21. Will the Fund accept an extension beyond 2021? And then two more questions. On El Salvador, whether talks with El Salvador for an IMF program has paused or have been entirely called off? What’s the exact status of those talks? And if they are in a pause or have been called off, what needs to happen in order for them to resume.

And, finally, on Ethiopia. That the executive board hasn’t approved two disbursements in October whether this is due to the war in Ethiopia, and has the IMF received assurances from creditors to go ahead with the new program in Ethiopia? Thank you, Derrick.

MR. RICE: Okay, thanks very much. A look on Ukraine, I don’t have much to add to what I said. So, I can give you a broad timeline that the mission is going to go later this month. So, discussions are continuing; but I don’t have any, you know, timeline for disbursements or for extensions, or what you asked about. I think we just need to let the discussions which are active play out and we’ll keep you posted as to concrete or more specific developments regarding the timeline.

MR. RICE: On El Salvador, again, I don’t have a great deal to add to what I said the status is we’re in discussions with the El Salvador authorities. These are Article 4 discussions -- so, our annual discussion

-- and they’re ramping up now. We expect them to conclude, as I said, in the period ahead, in the coming months, and they will -- maybe I can help you just a bit -- they will serve as the underlying policy that measures for continuing discussions on a potential program with the fund. Okay? So, it’s the Article 4 discussions and those discussions serving as a basis then for discussions on a potential program with the fund. You know, you wouldn’t expect me to get into what would be the criteria for the program and all of that, but, as I said, the objectives of a program would be to foster inclusive growth, ensure financial stability, fiscal sustainability, and so on. Discussions on economic governance, especially fiscal transparency, and anti-corruption measures will remain key in the Article 4 and ensuing discussions, so again, that’s about it on El Salvador.

On Ethiopia, where we are, is -- maybe just to explain to folks who don’t follow it as closely as you do -- that the program of support that we have with Ethiopia actually consists of a blend of two IMF facilities with two arrangements. The extended credit facility, which is concessional, and the extended fund facility, which is non-concessional. Now, the ECF, the Extended Credit Facility, will expire this month, in September. The Extended Fund Facility, the other one, will remain operational. And as we said in some press releases that we’ve issued recently, the authorities -- the Ethiopian authorities -- have performed and the fund has reached multiple staff-level agreements during the course of the program. You know how the IMF works. We do these quarterly reviews to make sure they are on track, and we have been ready to present program reviews to the executive board. So, I think in a nutshell, I’d say is while the ECF program is set to expire later this month, the EFF arrangement remains in place. I hope that’s clear. And the bottom line is it’s too soon to precisely map out staff engagement with the authorities over any possible new program, as well as the review of the existing EFF program, but we are in regular contact and we continue or economic analysis and our policy dialog. Thanks for those questions.

QUESTIONER: Hi Gerry. Hey, everyone. It’s great to see everyone. Gerry, I’ve got a couple of questions for you, just to follow up on Afghanistan. So, you talked about the moving humanitarian crisis. I’d like you to be a little bit more precise if you can. Like, how dire is the situation there is a terrible cash crunch You know, there’s the drought. There’s hunger coming. Like, how urgently and seriously do you see that going? Do you want all of the questions at once or --

MR. RICE: Yes.

QUESTIONER: I mean, has the IMF team there been in touch at all with the Taliban, with the new Central Bank leadership, and, you know, what are the plans for that -- your team -- IMF team there in the region? Are they planning to go back at some point? You know, what’s your thinking about that? And then, I just have one more question about the U.S. debt limit. We are getting dire warnings all the time now that the U.S. is going to, you know, run out of money, and they’ll be a government shutdown unless Congress acts, so given that it is the world’s largest economy, and I know you track it, can you just say a word or two about what your perspectives are? And then, just finally, you put out a thing earlier today about the task force. The WHO, WTO, IMF thing calling on the world to redouble efforts to get these vaccines out there. The COVID-19 Summit, the U.S. is encouraging global leaders to commit to a goal of 70 percent by 2022, so by next year’s UNGA. What’s your reaction to that goal?

MR. RICE: Okay, thanks very much. On Afghanistan, I really don’t have much to add. I know you had a couple of questions, but as I said, we -- our engagement with Afghanistan has been suspended given the lack of recognition of a government there by the international community, so we’re really not in a position to provide information data on, you know, the humanitarian situation. We’re watching it like everybody else. We’re concerned about it, but I don’t have granularity, and likewise on the economic dimension that you mentioned. We are concerned, as everyone is, about the humanitarian situation, but I don’t have granularity for you there because, as we’ve said, our engagement is suspended at the moment.

On the U.S. and the debt ceiling, on that, I think what I’d say is we think it’s important to find a solution that avoids counterproductive brinkmanship over the debt ceiling. And, you know, we’ve said before in Article 4s on the U.S. and so on, that we think beyond simply suspending or raising the ceiling consideration could be given to replacing the ceiling with a clear, simple medium-term fiscal objective or automatically adjusting the debt ceiling in a way that is consistent with whatever agreement is struck on taxes and appropriations. That’s all I have to say on that one.

On the pandemic proposal, and you asked about President Biden’s announcement that -- for a target of 70 percent , where does the world stand today? We did issue a -- jointly with WHO, World Bank, and WTO, a statement this morning, just at 9:00 this morning, so people may not have had a chance to look at that, but where we are today, the world reached 40 percent vaccination rate, at least one dose, this week, but only 2 percent of that in low-income countries, in the poorest countries. So, earlier in the summer, the IMF, together with our partners, the WHO, World Bank, WTO, we put our targets around vaccinating at least 40 percent of the population in every country by the end of this year, and at least 60 percent in all countries, all countries, by the first half of 2022. Now, separately, the WHO has announced an additional global target of vaccinating 70 percent of the world’s population by the middle of next year. So, bottom line, responding to your question, this 70 percent target is compatible with our targets of 60 percent in each country by the first half of 2022, and again, importantly, our target is at the country level, whereas the additional target proposed by the WHO is at the global level.

On president Biden's target, I think -- and the discussion of that, I think we have to wait now for Wednesday. We haven't seen the formal announcement on that. But again, you've seen our communication on this and that group of the IMF, the World Bank, the WHO, WTO are meeting on a regular basis to monitor and to accelerate progress on vaccine equity, quite frankly. So, I'm going to leave it there and turn now. Did you want to come in as well or no?

QUESTIONER: Hi Gerry, good morning.

MR. RICE: So, I'm guessing I'm going to take a wild guess. You're going to ask me about Argentina.


QUESTIONER: That is correct. Yes, sir.

MR. RICE: Hey, good to see you both.


QUESTIONER: Thank you.

QUESTIONER: So, as you know, there were elections on Sunday and the Government effort, a major defeat, and that was followed by the crisis in the President's cabinets that left wide in the open the divisions in the ruling position. I'm sure you're going to give us an update on the talks, but I wanted to know if -- does the IMF still has confidence that the Argentine Government can deliver the kind of deal that the IMF was hoping to reach with Argentina in this context?

MR. RICE: Yeah, I may have want -- it won't surprise you Rafael, we don't comment on political developments nor speculation around that. But what I can tell you is that we continue the work with the Argentine authorities to deepen the technical discussions we're having toward an IMF supported program that can durably address Argentina's macroeconomic imbalances, and set the basis for sustainable and inclusive growth. Our goal remains to help Argentina and the people of Argentina address the challenges they face. So. we are engaged. I don't have for you Rafael an update on the timing of any new program. So, that's about all I can say on that at the moment. I don't know if you want to follow up, or others want to follow up.

QUESTIONER: Yes. Is there any meeting planned ahead, either a virtual or in person, whether in Buenos Aires, or here in Washington?

MR. RICE: I don't have any specific dates for you, but I can tell you again, the discussions are ongoing. They're taking place on, really on an ongoing basis, but I don't have a date for a mission or anything like that.

QUESTIONER: Hi, Gerry. Gerry?

MR. RICE: Yes.

QUESTIONER: Do you hear?

MR. RICE: Yes.


MR. RICE: Is it you?


MR. RICE: Yeah. Hi.

QUESTIONER: Yes, I am. Nice to see your Gerry.

MR. RICE: Likewise.

QUESTIONER: Yesterday, the Government presented the budget for next year. I would like to know where the IMF staff was consulted by the Minister Guzman for the preparation of the draft budget for 2022. And also, can you tell us when the IMF will define whether to eliminate or reduce the surcharges that applied to over quarter loans? Thank you.

MR. RICE: Thank you. Again, it would be premature for me to comment on the draft 2022 budget. We would not want to preempt the technical discussions that are taking place at this stage, as I just said. We're working closely deepening our technical understanding across a range of issues that could form the basis of a potential IMF program. So, I won't get into the details of that. On your second question, Liliana, about the surcharges, as I've said here before, the G-20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors in their most recent communique called on the Fund to complete its outreach on a review of its access and surcharge policies. So, Kristalina Georgieva, the Managing Director, took note of this request and is moving this process forward, is how I would characterize it.

QUESTIONER: But we don't have any date?

MR. RICE: I don't have a date for you, but this is likely to be an informal meeting of the Board at least initially, and those meetings can take place, they do take place fairly regularly and they can take place fairly quickly because the important thing is to get the preliminary views and guidance of our Executive Directors on such policy and country matters at which would then be subsequently submitted for further consideration in a formal Board meeting. That's the way it works, but I don't have a date for you.

QUESTIONER: Okay, thank you.

MR. RICE: All right. I am going to go on line okay. I see -- before I go online, let me, yes, please, come on in.

QUESTIONER: Gerry nice to see you again. Most of my questions have been answered, but I'd like to add another thing about Mr. Goldfajn. He will be the new head of the Western Hemisphere Department, and I would like to ask you, how do you think that he could contribute to the negotiation with Argentina? Is there any way that if he can do that?

MR. RICE: I wouldn't comment on the specifics of Argentina, but what I would say is that the IMF being able to have Elan Goldfajn return to the IMF because he was he was here before, as you may know, as a staff member. Having him return to the IMF is a major asset for us given his experience globally in the region, former Governor of the Central Bank of Brazil, as you know. And his knowledge of the Fund and the issues we face given his tremendous experience, really extraordinary expertise and experience. So, I think he can contribute in important ways and significantly to help us serve all our member countries better and including countries of the region where he will be the director, of course. And for those of you who hadn't seen the announcement on, on Elan, I can point you to that announcement from earlier this week.

I'm going to turn online and I'll come back briefly into the room where we are probably going a bit long here. There's, a couple of questions on Lebanon. Has the Lebanese Government informally approached the IMF. And there's a question, another Lebanon question, and she's asking how should Lebanon use the $13 billion it received in exchange for the SDRs?

What I can tell you on Lebanon, we have had some courtesy calls with members of the new government in Lebanon, and we stand ready to engage with the new government in the period ahead. I don't have any timeline, deadline, mission dates, all of that, but we are ready to engage. And in terms of how Lebanon should use the SDR allocation again on August 23rd, as I mentioned in this briefing Lebanon, along with other IMF member countries received an SDR location in proportion to its quarter share. Again, at this critical moment for the world, for our member countries to help strengthen their depleted reserves and help with the many urgent needs facing the Lebanese people at this time, which we're very cognizant of.

Again, it would be important how should they be used. It's for the government to decide how their SDRs should be used. That's true for every country. But it's important that it be used to help replenish depleted central bank reserves, as I said, and that any use is done in a transparent and responsible manner that supports needed macroeconomic adjust and reforms. That's true in Lebanon and that's true in every country.

Kristalina Georgieva has said on the SDRs, I'll just quote her, "that they should be used responsibly and wisely and they should be deployed for the maximum benefit of the country and its people". So again, that applies to Lebanon and that applies to every country the IMF has issued a guidance note to countries on the use of the SDRs. We published that, you can find it on our website and we're monitoring how the SDRs are used and we will be reporting on that in due course.

There is a question on Myanmar. She's asking, may I confirm the IMF is still not engaging with the military regime and I would like to know the applicability of the transparency requirements the previous authorities committed to.

So, I can confirm we are not engaging with the new regime. Again, it falls into that handful of countries where we are guided by international recognition and there's a lack of clarity around the recognition of the government in Myanmar. So, they are unable to access the SDR allocation or IMF resources. Again, this treatment very consistent with past practice and precedence. We're monitoring developments, of course, in Myanmar.

In terms of the transparency question that was asked about, what I would say is it's not possible for the Fund to ascertain whether the regime currently in effective control is using the IMF funds as they were intended. Namely, to tackle to COVID and support the most vulnerable people. And I can say we're very concerned about recent political developments and what they mean for addressing the pandemic in Myanmar. And as we all know, the country has been hit very hard by the pandemic and that is a matter of concern. So that's on Myanmar.

So, I'm going to come back in the room very, very briefly because I'm going on way too long here. Is there anything else in the room? David, hi. David Lotter, Reuters.

QUESTIONER: Hey Gerry, good to see you. I just had a quick question about SDRs and the development of a lending mechanism which is something that the IMF has been working on but there is a lot of technical issues related to that. Some central banks need to hold them as assets. Where are we on this? Do you expect to have something ready to go at the time of the annual meetings here to be able to put in place and get those SDRs on lent or provided otherwise to countries that need them. Thanks.

MR. RICE: Thank you. I'll make this the last question. It's a good one. Again, this was our largest -- the IMF's largest SDR allocation in our history, $650 billion. It's effective. The SDR allocation was made on August 23rd. As I said, it's an important boost to all our member countries at this time when we're struggling with probably the biggest crisis of our lifetimes and we think it can be a great help in that effort.

What we've also said and this is what you were alluding to is that we'd like to see as much as possible of the allocation going to the most vulnerable countries. So, we call this the channeling of SDRs. So, the SDRs have been allocated and now we are pushing for, we're advocating that the wealthier countries who may have excess SDRs, that they would allocate those SDRs or some of them to the more vulnerable countries.

So Kristalina Georgieva has been very public about that and about pushing for that. We had one of those informal Board meetings, that I referred to earlier on this topic where staff presented to the board in this informal meeting, a couple of options on the channeling or the rechanneling of SDRs to the poorer countries. It can be done via the PRGT, that's our Poverty Reduction and Growth Trust. That's probably the easiest, the most well-established option with broad support.

In fact, in the past year, you probably know this, David, in the past year, we were able to free up some $24 billion of resources for low income countries based on a $15 billion SDR channeling to the PRGT based on the existing SDRs. So, the PRGT would be the most optimal way to do this.

The second option that we've put on the table and again, the managing director has talked about this quite a bit is to create what we are calling a new Resilience and Sustainability Trust and this is what David was talking about. That could support poorer and vulnerable countries, helping them achieve recoveries from the pandemic, greener recoveries, more sustainable recoveries into what we all hope will be the post-pandemic period.

There is a third option that relates to SDRs potentially being channeled through other multilateral development banks. But that particular option, I don't think, has as much support at least on a preliminary basis as the other two options.

So, on your question, then about this potential new facility, the resilience and sustainability trust. The exact modalities, objectives are still under discussion. And, you know, we're working very hard on these proposals. We did get, as I said, feedback from our executive directors. We want to take that on board and we will revert back to the board with an updated proposal in the coming weeks.

So, the way I would leave it is that I would hope we have more information and indeed more progress by the time of the annual meetings which is what you just asked about. So, I am going to leave it there. Thanks very much for your patience. I really appreciate you plugging in today. Colleagues on the screen, colleagues online and be in touch with us if you have any questions. See you in a couple of weeks. Thanks everybody. Bye, bye, stay well.

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