Transcript of IMF Press Briefing

March 31, 2022

MR. RICE: Well good morning everyone, and welcome to this press briefing on behalf of the International Monetary Fund. I’m Gerry Rice of the Communications Department, and as usual we'll be embargoed this morning until 10:30 a.m. That’s Washington time. Good to see everybody. Hello. Thank you for coming, and I see many of you on the screen, and a number online as well. Waving back Martin, thank you.

It’s been a busy time here at the Fund, in terms of communication. You may have seen a couple things in recent days. The Managing Director, Kristalina Georgieva, has been in the Middle East, in Doha and Dubai, and she has interacted with a number of your colleagues there, doing various events and media activities. And I know also a number of you were at Gita Gopinath’s, our first Managing Director, you were at her press briefing yesterday, where we updated on our views on the liberalization and management of capital flows, an important topic that I see some of you have reported.

So, again, quite busy the last few days, and busy in the next few days. Let me just touch on a few upcoming things. So later today at 1 p.m. Washington time, our Economic Counselor and Research Department Director Pierre-Olivier Gourinchas -- Pierre Olivier has recently joined the fund, as I’m sure many of you know. Pierre Olivier will be participating in a panel with the Peterson Institute on an IMF paper. Staff paper, entitled “Labor Market Tightness in Advanced Economies.” It’s a topic I know many of you are interested in, and that’s going to be released to you under Embargo and, again, we will have that event with Pierre Olivier at 1 o’clock today. In many ways, it’s Pierre Olivier’s first public event in his new incarnation, so we’re quite excited about that.

Coming up, on April 5th, I mentioned Gita, Gita Gopinath, our First Deputy Managing Director, Gita will have a press conference in collaboration with the Global Fund, Wellcome Trust, and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness, Innovations (CEPI). They will discuss key things of a paper from Gita, and Ruchir Agawal of IMF Staff on building resilience to long-term Covid-19. So, again, a very topical issue. April 5th, 9 o’clock, an open event.

On April 6th, the day after, at 8:30 a.m., we will have our Director for Strategy and Policy review. Many of you know Ceyla Pazarbasioglu, and Ceyla will be on a panel. In fact, she’ll be moderating that panel, on the issue of shoring up debt sustainability, again, an issue many of you are following, an issue of great interest. Others on that panel will be John Lipsky of the Bretton Woods Committee, Ken Rogoff, Professor Ken Rogoff of Harvard and Jason Rosario Braganza of AFRODAD, so civil society represented there.

And then, just looking ahead, the Spring meetings coming into view, Monday April 18th though April 24th, all press events, as I think I’ve said before, will be done virtually. The meetings will actually be hybrid. Official delegations will be bringing small delegations in person, but all media public events will be virtual. And we have the usual events that I know follow from IMF. The curtain-raiser speech, as we call it, will be done April 14th. We’re doing that in partnership with the Carnegie Endowment for National Peace. That’s April 14th, as I said.

April 11th, mark your calendars. We will have the World Economic Outlook, and in rapid succession and the Global Financial Stability Report and the Fiscal Monitor and the Global Policy Agenda -- Those 4, we call them Flagship Documents, which of course we’ll be giving you the update on all our forecasts, and where we see the global economy at this point.

So all of that is coming up very, very shortly. Let me just correct myself, April 11th, it will be the Analytical Chapters, as we call them, for those Flagships, and it will actually be Tuesday, April 19th. You have a bit more time. Tuesday, April 19th will be the WEO, the World Economic Outlook, followed by the Flagships. Visit, all the information is there, and we are very happy to follow up with you, if you have further questions, or are seeking more information. Just give us a call, or send us an e-mail.

I should add, we will have the usual program seminars, and they are star-studded, I would say, at least in terms of the world of economics, which the IMF inhabits. Many of the stars in that context. And, again, more information on All our seminars will be open to you. Okay?

Sorry, that was a bit longer than usual, but as I said, Busy days ahead. Let me turn to colleagues online. Lalit, I see your hand there. Lalit Jha? Come on in Lalit.

QUESTIONER: Thanks for doing this, your briefing. I wanted to ask you about the supply chain disruption in view of the Covid-19, Russian invasion and reaction in Ukraine. You know, they’ve had a massive disruption in the supply chain in this highly connected world as a result of that. Can we assess what impact it is having on the global economy? Which sections of the economy do you think is highly impacted by this disruption? Thank you.

MR. RICE: Thank you very much, Lalit. Your questions were short. Thank you. But those are huge issues you’ve asked about. Let me try and answer them, you know, kind of one by one.

Your first one was about, again, a topic everyone is looking at, the disruption in supply chains. The war induced supply disruptions, notably for food and energy will increase the cost of living, particularly for low-income households. And targeted fiscal support for those households can help cushion the impact. They will add these war-induced supply disruptions will also add to preexisting inflation pressures. And if signs emerge that inflation will be high, over the medium term, and there is a tangible risk of inflation expectations de-anchoring, I say if central banks may be forced to react even faster than anticipated, by raising interest rates. So policy makers should, of course, continue to communicate, clearly, the outlook for inflation and monetary policies.

What can countries do in the face of these supply chain disruptions? Well, for one thing, avoid policies which have knock on effects on supply disruptions and prices. Examples include commodity hoarding, export restrictions and price controls. In a more difficult, multilateral environment, countries should also resist adding to the long list of existing trade disputes that risk global economic prospects. That was your first question, LALIT.

Your second one, was what impact was it having on the global economy? And I think, again, it's a question everyone’s asking. The war in Ukraine will amplify economic forces already shaping the global recovery from the Pandemic. The shock will likely be transmitted via worsening supply-demand imbalances, and further increase commodity prices, as I just indicated. The integration of Russian and Ukraine into global value chains extends beyond these commodity linkages alone. Disruptions in upstream sectors can therefore look for cascade beyond bilateral trading partners. I'll give some examples, but I won't go into detail. If you want more detail, happy to follow-up with you. But, you know, it ranges from everything from production of neon gas to global car production affected in other ways, disruptions to Ukraine's production of electrical wiring systems.

For example, disruption of exports of fertilizers from Belarus will affect food production. So, again, all of that just to say the disruptions go beyond commodity linkage. And in the near term, there's limited scope for downstream producers to substitute alternative inputs. So, the initial shock in Ukraine, Russia, and Belarus can, therefore, quickly amplify across sectors and borders magnifying the impact of the war on global activity. That was your second question, Lalit.

Your third question is, perhaps, the most urgent of all because you asked, you know, who gets hurt, which section of the population is most highly impacted by these disruptions. I would bucket it in two ways. Within countries, low-income households are likely to be most affected by the shocks. The poor are most likely to be affected. With a large share of expenditure -- with a larger share of their expenditure on essential items like food and fuel, the concentration of effects in these categories mean that the cost of living squeeze hurts the poor most.

Agricultural communities will face conflicting effects of these shocks, higher prices for inputs, fuel, fertilizers, and outputs, agricultural commodities. And how these play out. The eventual balance depends on local conditions, but overall, it's going to be the low-income households and producers that will be hurt most. That's within countries.

Across countries, higher prices for international food commodities impact countries differently, of course, depending on the food share of households' consumption baskets and the types of food consumed. Again, households in low-income countries are particularly exposed to changes, for example, in the price of staple cereals with their diets often concentrated in just one type of grain. Low-income countries where wheat, corn, and sorghum are a large part of the diet have already seen inflation almost wholly driven by rising food prices. And some emerging market economies, including in the Middle East and Central Asia, have also been similarly affected by higher global food prices.

At the same time, and finally, just to conclude on this and just to note, fuel and other commodity exporters may benefit somewhat from higher commodity prices, but I have emphasized here the negative impacts which, for the majority of countries and people, is the case. Look, Lalit, those were big questions. We will have much more to say in the wheel upcoming in a few weeks, but I wanted to take some time to respect your questions and that's what I have for that.

Let me turn to Matthew. I see your hand up. Matthew Lee in New York. Nice to see you, Matthew.

QUESTIONER: Sure, thanks a lot. And I'll try to be as crisp as Lalit. I'm not sure if I can do it, but I wanted to ask you about Sri Lanka. It's much in the news. There's a lot of the -- there's some serious economic turmoil there. Talk of the, you know, IMF program and trying to address foreign exchange issues. What's the status between the IMF and Sri Lanka and what do you think of the moves that Raja Baksa government has been taking. And also, I just wanted to ask about Haiti, the same, maybe even turmoil beyond economic there. What's the status of both that relief and of IMF programs in Haiti. Thanks a lot.

MR. RICE: Hey, thank you, Matthew. Two questions on Sri Lanka and on Haiti. You're not the only one interested in Sri Lanka. Matthew, I'm seeing Julia Hollingsworth from CNN weigh in. Nice to see Julia join us. On Sri Lanka's economic crisis, I'm keen to get a comment from the IMF about what requests it's had and what it's planning to do to help with the economic crisis. And, I'm seeing Paneetha Ameresekere. Hi, Paneetha. Ceylon Today is also joining us, asking pretty much the same question Matthew -- around the same question as you and Julia. Sri Lanka and talks with the IMF, what's the economic outlook for the country.

I'll try to be brief. On Sri Lanka, we issued a fairly comprehensive statement. I don't know if you saw it, Matthew, the other day -- well, actually the other month, February the 25th -- on the Article IV consultation or staff report we published. It's got a lot of detail. So, I'll refer you and others to that and I won't repeat all that's in there. Instead, I'll just try to tell you where we are.

The Sri Lankan authorities have expressed interested in an IMF support and financial program. The answer is yes. On the status of that discussion, we plan to in initiate those program discussions with the Sri Lankan authorities including during the Finance Minister's visit to Washington in April. So, we plan to initiate those discussions pretty much in the coming days and that will include during the expected visit of the Finance Minister of Sri Lanka to Washington for our spring meetings in April.

On the economic outlook, again, I will refer you to that February 25th statement. I'm just looking at it. It's fairly detailed including a table of all selected indicators. But, we will be updating the macroeconomic forecast and that will come in the wheel that I mentioned earlier in April. So, that's about as much as I have on Sri Lanka.

Matthew, you asked about Haiti. We remain engaged with Haiti. We've been the -- as you may know, Matthew -- we've been the main source of external financing to Haiti, the IMF, since 2019. We provided financial assistance equivalent to about $365 million under our rapid credit facility, the containment and catastrophe containment and relief trust, that's debt relief, and an SDR allocation, all to Haiti in recent times.

After adequate steps were taken to improve governance in the area of procurement during 2021, funds staff held discussions this month with the Haitian authorities on what we call a staff monitor program. Many of you are familiar with that. It's a program that does not come with specific financing, but it aims to help the country get on the right macroeconomic path and to mobilize revenues and address reforms needed in key sectors.

Matthew, I can give you a bit more detail if you want it on the key policy objectives that underpin that SMP, that Staff Monitored Program. I won't do it now in respect to others asking questions, but we can give you, easily and immediately, further detail if you want to follow up after this briefing, okay? Thank you. Thanks for the questions.

MR. RICE: Thank you, Matthew. Really appreciate your great collegiality. I want to turn to Delphine of AFP. Hey, Delphine.

QUESTIONER: Hello. Thank you for taking my question. Good morning, everyone. Actually, I have two questions. The first one is about Lebanon. An IMF delegation launches yesterday two-weeks mission in Lebanon. The Deputy Prime minister Saade Chami said he hopes that a preliminary deal will be reached. How confident are you that a deal can be secured during this new mission?

And the other is on Tunisia. The IMF recently visited Tunisia. The staff noted in a statement that “further progress in the technical discussions with the Tunisian authorities”. How far are the two parts from a deal and what are the main obstacles to launch official negotiation?

MR. RICE: Sure, Delphine, thanks. Lebanon, actually, the Managing Director, as you may have seen, met with Lebanon’s prime minister just a few days ago, met with Prime Minister Mikati at the Doha Forum. She summarized the discussion there, I’m just looking at it, extensive work is underway to complete a comprehensive reform program. The Fund remains closely to help address unprecedented economic and social crisis that Lebanon is facing and that we have talked about here before. Delphine, I can tell you further that an IMF staff team, led by Ernesto Ramirez Rigo is visiting Lebanon March 28. The team is in discussion with the Lebanese authorities and discussing the latest economic developments and how the IMF can support the country. They are clearly working with the authorities towards formulating a reform program that can help Lebanon and the Lebanese people, which we very much want to do. I would characterize the discussions, those discussions, as progressing well, but extensive work is needed in the coming period, because, as we all know, Lebanon’s challenges are deep and complex and will require time and commitment. Delphine, there will be more communication on Lebanon from the team when they communicate at the end of that mission that I mentioned.

On Tunisia, I don’t have a great deal to say. I might be able to give you a bit more after the briefing. I would just want to reiterate that, like Lebanon, like the case of Lebanon, we are keen to do all that we can to support Tunisia. We have stood by Tunisia in recent times, including with emergency financing during the pandemic, and we want to stand by Tunisia again as much as we can. So we are engaging closely and again, we might be able to give you a bit more after the briefing.

I want to take a question from Aline Bronzati, I don’t know if Alene is on the call, but Aline, if you are there, you can come in. Aline is with Estadão and has questions about the US which she sent via online. Does th IMF, see the US economy in recession? Why? Do you consider making a revision in your forecast for the US economy in 2022?

What I’d say on the US, Aline, the US economy, remains strong. Bringing inflation down, however, will require concerted policy effort by the Federal Reserve. That process has already begun. As the Fed has clearly signaled, policy will need to be calibrated to bring inflation back to 2% while achieving a soft landing for the economy. As Chair Powell has already recognized, achieving a soft landing will be a challenging task for policy and it comes with significant downside risks. We will, in answer to your questions, we will have more to say, a lot more to say, on the US economy at the time of the WEO update, which I referenced at the beginning of the meeting.

Let me turn to colleagues from Argentina, because I see a number of you, hi there, I see a number of you on the call and I want to respect that and you know, come on in with your questions. Liliana, I see you hand, Raphael, Patricia, Martin. I’m seeing you all there, so Liliana, why don’t you start.

QUESTIONER: Hi Gerry, good morning. Okay, thank you. Good morning to all of you. After reading the staff report, it seems to me, it seems that the IMF is not very confident about implementation of the new program. My question is, why you considered that the program is high-risk and even though, why the IMF decided to give an extended fund facility to Argentine? Thank you.

MR. RICE: Thanks, Liliana. Let me take that one. But before I do, let’s see what others there are. On Argentina, I’m seeing Martin. Hey Martin, why don’t you come in.

QUESTIONER: Hi Gerry, good morning, how are you? I would like to know if you think that dollarization is the way to stabilize countries like Argentina? Thank you.

MR. RICE: I didn’t catch the word, sorry Martin?

QUESTIONER: Do you think that dollarization is the way to stabilize economies like Argentina? Thank you.

MR. RICE: Dollarization. Okay

QUESTIONER: That’s right. Thank you.

MR. RICE: Alright, I am seeing Patricia.

QUESTIONER: Hi Gerry, how are you? I was wondering if the surcharges are going to be part of the discussion in the upcoming spring meeting?

MR. RICE: Okay. Thank you, Patricia. And, Raphael, of course. How are you?

QUESTIONER: Good. Hi Gerry, good to see you. Last but not least. I have a somewhat similar question to Liliana. In the press release that you issued last Friday, after the Board approval was announced, Europe disagreed that the program is subject to exceptionally high risk, and they also say that Argentina’s vulnerability to external shocks and implementation difficulties were heightened given the complex social and political situation. Also in the staff report, the staff again said that debt is sustainable but not with high probability, which is the same assessment that the staff did during the Macri administration and then later the staff said that there should be restructure and the data assessment. Under those considerations, I was hoping you could explain to us the rationale of the Board in deciding to approve another exceptional access program for Argentina. Thanks.

MR. RICE: Okay, anything else on Argentina? I do see Eric’s hand raised, and Steven, if you are on Argentina, come in, please.

QUESTIONER: Yes, Gerry, I just wanted to ask, I have other questions as well, for later, but I wanted to ask whether Argentina has made its payment, they were going to be allowed to make a $2.8 billion dollar payment by today, March 31, and just to find out whether that’s the case, whether they in fact made that payment.

MR. RICE: Okay, Eric, thank you. Okay, I think that’s all the questions. So let me take a clutch of those questions.

On the last question, from Eric, which is very much in the moment, we will come back to you with a confirmation, Eric, after the briefing, okay? I am anticipating, expecting the answer to be yes, but let’s, I just want to confirm it with you and make sure we do the due diligence to make sure that’s correct. I am anticipating the answer is yes, but let’s just come back to you and we’ll confirm straight away after this briefing.

There were a number of questions about sort of the crux of the program, and the risks to the program, and why the IMF decided, the IMF Board, decided to go ahead with this program.

And I do think the communications that we‘ve issued, and the staff report, the press release, and the follow up that we did with many of you, to explain I think did touch on these things. But, maybe just to back up for those who don’t follow Argentina just as closely as Argentine colleagues. So, just last Friday, the IMF Board approved a new IMF financing arrangement with Argentina for $44 billion. And there was an immediate disbursement related to that of $9.65 billion roughly. And the rational, the objective, was to provide Argentina with balance of payments, budget support. Why did the Board move forward? Again, I think we have said this many times. We believed that Argentina’s program, now supported by the IMF with this financing, sets pragmatic and realistic objectives, along with credible policies, which when implemented, will strengthen macroeconomic stability and begin tackling Argentina’s deep-seated challenges. The program aims to strengthen public finances, and start the process of reducing persistently high inflation through a multi-pronged strategy involving a gradual elimination of monetary financing of the fiscal deficit and an enhanced monetary and exchange rate policy framework. The program also envisages steps to strengthen the domestic peso, debt market, the effectiveness of government spending, labor and gender inclusion, and the competitiveness of key sectors. So, those are the basic objectives. Those are the key reasons, if you like, for going ahead with the program. You know, I think one of the things that we’ve said at the IMF, and I think the Argentine Government has also said is that, what really- the thing that matters now most is implementation. So, in that respect, you know, we’re at the, paraphrasing Winston Churchill, we’re at the end of the beginning of this process, and now it’s all about implementation so that those objectives which I’ve mentioned, which are also the government’s objectives, as stated by President Fernandez, so that they can be achieved. On the risks, and again I think the staff report and our communication and the Argentine Government’s communication, have been clear-eyed on what we called exceptionally high risks. They are there but, and again we emphasize this, we think the program sets pragmatic and realistic objectives along with credible policies. When implemented, will achieve, can help achieve the objectives that are set. Why are the risks exceptionally high? Why do we say that? Because Argentina’s economic and social situation is fragile and new shocks are materializing the Argentine economy experience, three years of recession, 2018, 2020, very high rates of poverty, alongside persistent high inflation. While the economy is recovering, more strongly than previously anticipated, we’re now facing a new global shock associated with the war in Ukraine. Many countries are facing that shock. I just talked about that. As is Argentina, so it’s no surprise that the risks to the Argentine economy and therefore to the program are high. But, you know, we are committed to the program. We are strongly supporting the program, and we are working closely and will continue to work closely with the Argentine Government under a broad premise. And that is, it’s our shared interest to have a program that can be owned, and again, successfully implemented by the Argentine authorities. So, you know, I spent some time on that but I’m hoping to convey the rationale, again, why our Executive Board approved this program just a few days ago under an extended fund facility. On the other questions, on the question about dollarization, Martin, I really don’t have much to add on that question beyond what was said in the staff report broadly around monetary policy issues, exchange rate issues, and so on. And, on surcharges, which we’ve talked about here many times before, I just want to remind everybody that surcharges on IMF loans are not on all IMF loans. They are on countries with particularly large outstanding loans. And from that group of countries our policy on surcharges is uniform for all Fund members. The Fund articles, you know, in that context don’t permit any country’s specific exemptions or expenses. I’ve said here before that the policy on surcharges was quite recently reviewed by our Executive Board and I’m not aware of any specific follow-up discussion scheduled at this time. Sorry, I’ve taken some time on Argentina. Let me move on, and if there’s anything further on Argentina, if I haven’t answered everything, you know, I can take another question toward the end. But, let me move on and, Eric, I see your hand raised and I’ll come back to you but let me take David first because he hasn’t spoken, but Eric, I’ll come back to you. And, Stephen, I’ll come to you as well.

QUESTIONER: Hi Gerry, good morning. I had a question regarding the trust fund that the IMF is developing for Ukraine. This is the fund that would allow donor countries to channel resources to Ukraine. What can you tell us about where that is, what the timing might be, because it would seem to be kind of a rather urgent situation to get funding to that country which is fighting for its life. And also, if you could talk a little bit about the -- during the spring meetings, there will be a number of international meetings, notable the G20 meeting, and there are some countries that are suggesting that Russia shouldn’t be participating in that forum. Does the IMF have a view on this? Do you anticipate that Russian officials will attend the spring meetings in person, and is it appropriate for them to attend this time, given the situation? Thanks.

MR. RICE: Hey, thanks David. Let me take your first question -- your last question first. What I would say on that is attendance at the IMF World Bank spring meetings is decided by each member country, and those spring meetings are still a ways off, and arrangements regarding attendance are being finalized. That’s what I have on that one. On your question about, I guess David, it’s about the urgent financing situation facing Ukraine, which we agree with you on that one, and what more can be done. And we spoke here, when I was here a couple of weeks ago.

Well, number one, again, just backing up a bit, the IMF's trying to do as much as we can, as quickly as we can for Ukraine. Earlier this month, our Board approved, our Executive Board approved emergency financing of $1.4 billion. Money dispersed immediately, given the urgent situation to help with spending needs. And just a reminder that we already had a program of support. I know, you know, this David, but others may not. We already had a program of support with Ukraine for, which we most recently dispersed $700 million. And not to forget that some months ago as part of the SDR, general SDR allocation, the new allocation Ukraine got $2.7 billion as part of that SDR allocation. And those funds have proven very valuable in light of what has happened. So, that's just a brief recap.

What you are talking about, David, is at the request of some members and you're correct, we are currently working on a proposal to our Executive Board to establish what we call an IMF administered account for the benefit of Ukraine. And that account would provide a vehicle, a donor funded vehicle to channel loans and/or grants from interested donors to assist Ukraine in meeting the extraordinary crisis that it faces.

David, I don't have an update for you in terms of news on the AA, or the administered account, but I would imagine that this is something we will be able to give you more information on as we head into the Spring Meetings. And again, it broadly fits in that context of IMF doing all we can, and also working with others.

QUESTINER: Will it be ready about the Spring Meeting?

MR. RICE: I don't have that information David. Stay tuned and we'll keep you updated. Okay?

QUESTIONER: Thank you.

MR. RICE: Thank you. Eric, please.

QUESTIONER: Yes. Thank you, Gerry. I wanted to ask you about, and I realized that you've been asked already about Tunisia and Lebanon, which I was just curious about if there's anything that you have on timelines for those. But perhaps you've already said what you can say on that. I wanted to ask on timeline for Egypt as well. What's the timeline for talks and an agreement whether it's been decided yet whether there will indeed be a financial, or financing component to the Egypt assistance and what kind of specific the IMF wants to see from Egypt? Thank you.

MR. RICE: Yeah. Thanks, Eric. Important questions. Delphine had asked about Tunisia. So, let me answer you on Egypt and let me come back on Tunisia and give a bit more since you've asked about it as well, and Delphine considered it more of a response to your question as well. On Egypt, Eric, clearly Egypt is affected as pretty much all countries are by this challenging global environment that countries are facing. And in particular, the recent spillovers related to the war in Ukraine and posing sizable challenges. Eric, yes, the Egyptian authorities have

requested am comprehensive program that might include financial support. You may have seen, Eric, that Kristalina met with the minister, Mohamed, minister of finance. Mohamed Maait in, I believe it was in Dubai and she said, I'm sure you saw it. We welcome Egypt's response to head off the balance of payment shock and impact of rising food prices. And the IMF will support a program that helps to buttress reserves, protect the vulnerable, and strengthen private sector led growth. So, I know you've seen that Eric. IMF staff is working closely with the Egyptian authorities to prepare for program discussions with a view to supporting these shared goals of economic stability and sustainable job rich growth and inclusive medium-term growth for Egypt.

What type of program, what size of program, you know the modalities Eric, you won't be surprised at that. I don't have that right now where the discussions are just beginning. Those are the broad objectives and the program will be decided during the course of the discussions and indeed these may include additional financing for Egypt. So, I hope that helps.

On Tunisia, let me try and give you a bit more, both you and Delphine. We did have a, have a statement recently, and again, I'm sure you saw it, that further progress in the technical discussions with the Tunisian authorities has been made. What else can I tell? I noted our commitment, our close collaboration, our close consultation. I noted the major structural challenges facing Tunisia.

Again, the impact of the pandemic and the war in Ukraine are now adding to these challenges. We're seeing a common theme here, virtually every country we're talking about. We see the authorities proposed program as aiming to overcome these challenges in a durable and act equitable way. In the short-term, it does aim to mitigate the impact of the war in Ukraine while over the medium-term, to assure stronger, more durable, inclusive growth, and social protection creating fiscal space for public investment and social spending. I'm just looking and seeing if there's more, I can give you beyond what I had said. Again, we've characterized this as progress being made for the progress in the technical discussions that we're having, and these discussions will be continuing actively in the coming weeks. That's about as much as I have. Again, we had a staff team visiting Tunis a few, some weeks ago, and they issued a statement, refer you to that as well. And that's about it.

I am aware that I have run way over and I apologize to you. Steve, I don't know if you have urgent questions, if you do, I'll try and take them quickly. Though I may ask your indulgence to come back to you after the briefing. What were your topics, Steve?

QUESTIONER: Yeah, well, the really quick one is just, if there's an update on Ecuador. We heard that the review was supposed to end on the 18th and so I was wondering if there's any update. That's the quickie. I'll leave the complex ones for another day.

MR. RICE: Okay. Hey --

QUESTIONER: Gerry, would you mind to tell us also what Eric asked about today's payment for all of us?

MR. RICE: Absolutely Martin. We will communicate that to everybody and we will not forget. Very important point. We'll do that as soon as we can. Thanks to everybody. Thanks for coming. Fantastic turnout today. I really appreciate your attendance and I appreciate your patience. And see you in the period ahead with lots of communication activity coming from the IMF and looking forward to working with you all. Stay safe and well everybody. Bye-bye.

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