Transcript of a Press Briefing with Gerry Rice, Director of the IMF Communications Department and IMF Spokesman

September 1, 2016

MR. RICE: Well, good morning, everyone, and welcome to this press briefing on behalf of the International Monetary Fund. I’m Gerry Rice with the Communications Department. This briefing this morning is under embargo until 10:00 a.m., that’s Washington time.

This morning we’re going to depart just a little bit from established procedure. Number one, we’re having this briefing just a little bit earlier, half hour earlier today, and that’s because some of us are traveling off to the G-20 summit in China and catching planes and so on. So really appreciate your understanding of that. We’ll get back to the usual timetable next time around.

The second departure this morning is that for that G-20 Leader Summit we normally prepare what we call a note from the IMF, which outlines where we think the global economy stands at this point. We think that’s something useful for the leaders. So we will be releasing that note this morning at 10:00 a.m. Some colleagues here already have that under embargo.

I’m pleased to tell you we have with us this morning the principle author of that note, on behalf of the IMF, and that’s Mr. Helge Berger, who is the division chief in our research department. So given the G-20 summit in a couple of days’ time we thought it would be useful for you to have Helge come along and just give you some of the highlights of that G-20 note, which we’re publishing very shortly, take a few questions, and then I’ll come back and we’ll have business as usual in terms of the press briefing.

So the G-20 now being published at 10:00. Helge will talk about that. We also have a blog from Christine Lagarde, the Managing Director, that’s being published with that G-20 note, so all of that coming your way at 10:00.

I’m going to hand over to Helge, and then I’ll be back shortly. Okay, Helge. This is all embargoed until 10:00, all of this. Thank you very much. Helge?

MR. BERGER: Thank you. Thanks, Gerry. Good morning, everybody. So on the G-20 note, the idea is we talk quickly about the main messages and then we have a bit of time for questions.

So to summarize the main messages, where we see the economy and the challenges, I think we start with the concern, a concern about low growth and low growth being there for a long time. Concern about the fact that the policies in place do not seem to be sufficient to change this, and that the combination of low growth, very low growth, and inequality makes the challenges faced by policymakers to deal with this even larger.

What we need, in our eyes, is an ambitious growth strategy with policies and reforms that lift growth, and that includes smart rate integration. And to make sure that growth is more widely shared.

Let’s look at some of the details for just a little while. This figure that you see here shows you how low growth has been at the global level since the Great Recession. This year and next year could well be the fifth and the sixth year in a row where we are below the historical average, defined as growth, as we have seen in 1990 to 2007, so that is a little bit of the setting.

Now, why is growth low? There’s a shorter weakness that continues in a number of countries. In particular, in advanced economies and, for example, we know that growth in the first half year in the United States has been much lower than expected. So we are set to decrease the forecast for the U.S. The data that we are getting out of other countries, other emerging -- sorry, other advanced economies, emerging markets is a bit more mixed, so we’ll have to look at this more closely.

But perhaps the greater worry is that we have not only the short-term issues, still, we also have some negative growth dynamics in the longer term. These are holding back growth. It could even, sort of, force us into what you could call a low-growth trap going forward. So let me run through just the main elements of this story.

The first is the nexus between weak investment and slower moving trade. If corporations look ahead and they don’t see growth in the future, they’re less inclined to invest. We know from historical experience that trade is going to suffer. It’s going to slow down. That has, in turn, impact on productivity. This trade helps us to increase productivity growth, which will feed back into growth. You see this loop that could be there. That’s, sadly, a negative dynamic to keep an eye on.

We have other reasons why investment is weak in many countries. Corporates have high debts, certain banks have impaired balance sheets, so this is adding to that.

A second long-term issue is what you could call disappointing long-term trends. There’s aging, and you know that demographics have an impact on growth in many countries, but there’s also very low productivity growth. This is a trend that we have seen, especially in advance economies, long before the Great Recession, so this is a longer-term factor still at play.

Thirdly, and I think that is important as well, is the dangers of the political climate. A climate where concerns about low growth and inequality could stall needed reforms. Now, when this happens, and you also have more inward looking policies, all of this will make the growth picture even worse.

One way of illustrating this is this figure here that illustrates for a number of key advanced economies. I think this is taken from the MD’s blog, in case you want to look at it more closely, where you see that for a number of advanced economies income growth has been much higher, much more dynamic for the high income earner than for lower income earners.

Now, if that is true that illustrates some of the challenges that we have. It’s also true that trade and gains from trade have not always been shared equally. Now, what do you do about this?

I think in order to prevent these negative dynamics to hold we need an ambitious growth strategy. It needs to combine a number of things. Let me highlight three.

First is a need to continue with short-term support in countries where demand is still lacking. But, you know, demand is not only a way of tackling the shorter term issues, but also a way, as we know, to make the impact of needed structural reforms more intense, to accelerate the impact, and these are interactions we have discussed in the past. In many countries monetary policy is stretched thin, so in order to do all this in the short term we need a more prominent role for fiscal policy where there is fiscal space.

A second angle in that growth strategy is to tackle these slowing long term trends that I mentioned. The G-20 has committed to structural reforms, to infrastructure investment. However, they’re falling short relative to their commitment to increase GDP in 2018 by 2 percent. We argue that we need fast implementation of the existing commitments, and we need many countries’ additional measures. We have, in the past, made very specific suggestions what these measures could be.

Lastly, we think that the G-20 has an opportunity to explain how the right policies can work, how they can lift growth, how they can lift growth in an inclusive way so that growth is shared more widely. This has different layers and is a complex issue, but for national policies this means skill building. It means fostering mobility of people. It means making good news of tax benefit systems to share income equally.

At the global level, we need to promote trade, making sure that trade and the growth that can help us is shared equally. That’s about it for my summary. I suspect you have questions.

QUESTIONER: Hi. I wanted to ask you, you mentioned you will be reviewing the projections for the U.S. for this year, right? Because of the lower growth in the first half of the year. Did I get that correct?

MR. BERGER: Yes. So what we’re doing currently is we’re preparing the new forecast that we’re going to publish for everybody for the global economy in the October World Economic Outlook. Now, many things are underway, but it’s clear for the U.S., given the developments in the first two quarters this year, that we’re in for a downgrade of that outlook.

For other economies, we’re still looking at developments as were mixed. That’s true for many emerging economies, but also for other advanced economies.

QUESTIONER: Well, since you mention that, do you know -- can you say anything about the trends for Russia?

MR. BERGER: For some of the emerging economies where we have seen, sort of, very negative developments in recent quarters and years, including Russia, also Brazil. There seems to be some, you know, at least a stabilization, if not a slight outward movement. But that is just me looking at the recent data. The process of actually turning this into a forecast is more complicated and ongoing.

QUESTIONER: I understand. My real question was about the American official proclaiming in recent days that the debate between austerity and steamrollers being resolved, a consensus around the world for steamrollers. Do you agree with that assessment? Do you see anything wrong with it? Thanks.

MR. BERGER: Well, I believe that as a group the G-20 is committed. I think all the G-20 members are committed to raise growth in a sustainable manner. We also know that the G-20’s on the record that all levers, all policy levers should be used.

As I explained earlier, from where we stand, we think that it’s important to deal both with the short-term issues that still exist and the long-term issues, and doing that in a coordinated way might bring, again, both fiscal policies, structural reforms in a coherent framework will, in the end, deliver growth that is sustainable over a longer period.

I don't remember who was first. Let’s assume it was you, sorry.

QUESTIONER: Just to follow up on that question. Globally, would you say that the global forecast will likely be downgraded from your latest forecast? Related to that, in July, I believe, you acknowledged of a likely dampening effect from Brexit, from the Brexit vote. Can you update us on what you think the likely impact is on global growth?

MR. BERGER: You’ve seen that financial markets have taken, sort of, the UK vote in stride. So much of the slowdown in many countries, in many sectors, has been undone.

Now, what that means for the outlook that we’re going to update for October? I don't know. As I said, we have to look at the data in other countries including, of course in the UK, I just remind you that the July updated only included some reaction to what we thought the short and medium term impact of the UK vote would be.

QUESTIONER: So just to confirm, so your global forecast at this point, you can’t say anything definitive on that?

MR. BERGER: No, because it’s still ongoing. I covered what I think we really know at this point.


QUESTIONER: Yes. My question is silver linings, which economies, which countries specifically have done better than expected or surprisingly well on growth? You know, we’ve got all the rest of them, but which countries or regions, like West Africa or whatever, that you’ve been surprised by the sustainable growth?

MR. BERGER: The last update we had was in July. It’s only a couple of weeks ago, so it’s a bit early for me to speculate on this. I think, you know, we’ll go through the motions. October is the new WEO. Let’s talk again then.

QUESTIONER: Hi. Just to follow up on Andrei and Andrew’s question. If you go back to that first chart that you had there you were still forecasting a recovery and an upward tick in 2017. The story of the last few years has been persistently overestimating, at the Fund and others, persistently overestimating the recovery.

Yet, you talk about this kind of low growth trajectory that we’re in now. Yet, you seem to be forecasting a return to trend. Can you just walk us through whether you really think in 2017 that growth is going to return, what seems there, to be close to historical trend?

MR. BERGER: Well, I mean, you know, you can both be in the situation where you wish you had higher growth. If you look at the accumulated sort of growth that hasn’t happened since the crisis relative to historical average. This is quite, you know, a big pile of GDP that, you know, we didn’t see and we couldn’t -- you know, people couldn’t consume.

Now, in terms of the dynamics that you see at the end of the forecast. This is from the July update. You know, I think it has a lot to do with some of the, you know, more stressed economies, especially in the emerging market world sort of slowly turning around and seeing some stabilization returning back to something of their historical normal, most likely below. You know, that’s for the country experts to say, not for me.

But I think it has to do with a return from deeper crisis, especially in the emerging markets, because a lot of the short-term dynamics in July were there. If you look at the advanced economies, it's a different story. The emerging markets matter much more that they are used to, because they have a so much larger share of the global economy that, you know, our concerns especially with the lack of reforms and so on, also pertains to advanced economies, which don't necessarily show that same trend.

QUESTIONER: Just to follow up also. On Brexit, just very quickly, which is, in here you talk about you still believe a sharp slowdown is coming in the U.K. economy as a result of Brexit.

MR. BERGER: I think -- I'm not sure that this is how our U.K. team would characterize it. I think what we are certain is that we have seen a strong rebound in financial markets, and that is a factor. Longer term, I think, the U.K. trajectory will depend on how exactly the exit from the European Union will happen. You know, what are the conditions under which it will happen, and how much of the tradeoff gains we think are important, that will be preserved?

I see the people who are watching the clock --

SPEAKER: One more question.


QUESTIONER: Just a little bit of housekeeping. I'm slightly confused because you indicated that the U.S. said that you all are looking for a weaker forecast there, but you say twice in the report, the recent data points, to an even more modest pace of global growth this year, a high frequency data point to softer growth this year. That would seem to clearly indicate that you are looking to downgrade your outlook the next forecast. But am I misreading that?

MR. BERGER: I'm happy to be clear there. We are looking at the outlook, right, so that it will be updated from many countries that’s in ongoing forces, and the data has to be looked at. What we are certain is that for the U.S. economy growth will be lower. Now, the U.S. economy has a large share in the global output, it's about 15 percent, they are about a third of the advanced economies.

So if you do the math, you know, the mixed messages that we currently have from the data of all other countries, have to come out in this written way to compensate for that. But it's really speculation on my part. At this point we'll have to, you know, go through the motions and see where we are in October.

QUESTIONER: Got you. Thank you.

MR. BERGER: Thank you.

MR. RICE: Helge Berger.

MR. BERGER: I couldn’t have said it better.

MR. RICE: And Helge is Division Chief in our Research Department. Look, Helge has kindly agreed to hang around, so after the briefing if some of you still have very technical questions, and I can see the demand is high, then Helge has kindly agreed to stick around. Okay? If that’s helpful.

QUESTIONER: Maybe I'll follow up.

MR. RICE: I'm going to say a few things, and then I'll come to you. Is that okay? We'll proceed in the normal manner. Thank you very much. I hope that was helpful to everyone.

I don’t have much to say by way of introduction, just the usual management travel. Christine Lagarde, the Managing Director; David Lipton, the First Deputy Managing Director, will all be in Hangzhou this weekend for the leaders -- the G-20 Leader Summit, we just talked about that.

Christine Lagarde, will then go on to Laos, to the MPM for the ASEAN Summit. She'll be representing the Fund at that. And just a little bit further down the road, the week of September 12, Madame Lagarde will be in Canada where she'll meet with, among others, Prime Minister Trudeau. Participate in the Toronto Global Forum, deliver the Howe Institute Annual Lecture, and have a busy time there in Canada. That's the week of the 12th.

I should tell you that Finance & Development was published today, dealing with the issue of technology and its impact on the global economy. I think it's a timely topic. That’s available to you online and in hard copy if you want one. And the Annual Meetings are upcoming very fast. The first week in October, so you can register as of now.

Okay, I'll start with you since -- I'm not sure you are on.

QUESTIONER: Yes. Sorry. again, I just wanted to jump ahead a little with Ukraine to get this out of the way. I wanted to ask for an update on when you expect the Board Meeting, and what amount they will be discussing? Is there any update on that score?

MR. RICE: Yes. I can update you on that. So the question is about the IMF program with Ukraine, which was approved last year in the amount of about 17.5 billion, and we are in the process of discussing the second review. So what I can tell you is that discussions have continued in recent days. They are very close to being finalized. We expect that Board Meeting that you asked about to be announced shortly, once some technical issues on the timing of some future actions are resolved. So, we and the Ukraine authorities are aiming for a Board date, the second half of this month. Okay?

QUESTIONER: A Board date second half?

MR. RICE: The second half of this month, second half of September.

QUESTIONER: Okay. And when was the last time that the program was reviewed?

MR. RICE: So, the first review was concluded at the end of July, in 2015.

QUESTIONER: So, it's over a year now --

MR. RICE: Yes.

QUESTIONER: -- that the program has not been formerly reviewed. Do such programs have a shelf life? Does this require a review of the whole program, in the sense that maybe replacing it with the new one?



MR. RICE: As I said, we expect the review to be completed shortly, sometimes to conclude the reviews it does take a long time; this is not the only case, so this would -- As I say we expect the Board to make the assessment soon.

QUESTIONER: And like you said previously you expect one review to be completed, and not combined?

MR. RICE: Correct.

QUESTIONER: And then the amount under discussion that may be released is still undetermined?

MR. RICE: Well, the Board will make the decision on the amount.

QUESTIONER: One last thing.

MR. RICE: Okay. Last question on Ukraine.

QUESTIONER: Yes. Obviously, for the Russians it's also a matter of the Ukrainian debt to Moscow. And I know that you’ve changed your rules about lending into arrears, but still you need to make sure that -- to be sure that the debt -- and that’s negotiations with the creditor in good faith. So, my question is, do you follow that process in any way? Do you know if there are any negotiations, and in what way they are proceeding?

MR. RICE: So, again, context for those who don’t follow it. We have reformed policy on lending into arrears over the years; I think we've discussed that before here. That’s all been very public. So that’s the context for André's question.

You know, we've been informed of the discussions between Ukraine and Russia on the Eurobond issue, but as you know we are not part of that negotiation, between the two sides, and in terms of the good faith, that’s something that the board will assess when they have that meeting that we talked about. And they’ll make that assessment of the good-faith requirement of the policy for lending into arrears, to official bilateral creditors.

I mean, what I can say is from the staff side. We have welcomed the initial contacts and the discussions between the two sides, and we encourage Ukraine and Russia to continue these discussions to find a cooperative solution. But again, we are not part of those -- the IMF is not part of those negotiations. Are we on Ukraine?

SPEAKER: Gerry, just a one-short question to have it clear, the last briefing, I think you told that some technical issues still needed to be resolved. Do we still speak about just the technical issues, or the problem is deeper?

MR. RICE: No. As I said, we expect -- You know, good progress has been made. We expect to announce shortly the Board date, and I've indicated even, you know, the latter part of this month, we expect, so the issues are technical issues to be

resolved. This is not unusual, again, this is not an unusual process in our programs that the discussions continued, issues get discussed, and then they are resolved, and then we move to the Board.

Let me turn to you. Good morning.

QUESTIONER: Thank you, Gerry, good morning. Can you please confirm the IMF is going to conduct the Article IV consultation with Greece in September and the mission will remain there for consultations?

MR. RICE: Yes, we can confirm that we do plan to conduct our regular Article IV consultation with Greece in the second half of September. Again, for those who don’t follow the IMF so closely, the Article IV consultation is part of our regular surveillance that we do for all our member countries.

In the case of Greece, the last Article IV was over three years ago, it was actually concluded in June 2013. Again, as a standard, this will cover the macro outlook, economic policies, prospects, for the Greek economy.

As is usual, again, I’m just giving you as much information as I can, we would expect to have a concluding statement, staff concluding statement, at the end of that mission, but we will be giving you further information in due course.

QUESTIONER: How long does it take for this review to be completed? One week? Two weeks?

MR. RICE: Yes, it varies. It is usually, you know, a couple of weeks, but it can -- it’s flexible, but it is usually a couple of weeks.

QUESTIONER: And the findings of this review are going to be used as a basis for the new DSA? I’m just asking. Do you think DSA will be available at the end of the year?

MR. RICE: Well, you know, again for those who don’t follow it, you all know this, but the Article IV discussions, it is really an opportunity to step back from immediate operational issues and discuss the broader policy challenges.

So, it is its own process, but of course, the funding’s, the assessments, the information, the data that is gathered would feed into discussions down the road on possible IMF participation in the program and the DSA would feed into it, you know.

QUESTIONER: (Inaudible)

MR. RICE: Well, that depends on the discussions on the program and the IMF participation in the program and the exact timing of the DSA will be sequenced with that.

Are we on Greece? Greece?

QUESTIONER: Yes. Gerry, there are reports that during the annual meetings, IMF and the Europeans are going to have discussions on the Greek debt. Also, if you can tell us, is the Washington Group planning to meet during the annual meetings?

MR. RICE: I don’t have anything on discussions that might take place at the annual meetings. If we do, I’ll get back to you on that. What I can say is we have had no additional discussions on debt relief with the other European institutions since the last time we updated, but we do expect those discussions to resume in the coming period. I don’t have anything specific on the annual meeting.

Are we on Greece? QUESTIONER: Given the finding’s over the summer by the Independent Evaluation Office on Greece and engagement with the euroZone crisis, more broadly, is the IMF doing anything to change its engagement with Greece?

MR. RICE: Well, you know, a number of the -- in fact, I’d say virtually all of the finding’s in the independent evaluation report have been either discussed or assessed, you know, before that report, so we have been taking a number of actions and making a number of changes to the Greek program on an ongoing basis.

That assessment, as you know, was based on the 2010 program. We have had a subsequent program since then, so a lot of changes have been ongoing and have been incorporated. We are a learning institution. We try to do that as we go along.

Specifics, for example, you know, we had the whole debate at an earlier time about the fiscal multiplier, so arguments like that, issues like that have been adjusted and have been incorporated into the program as we have moved along.

I think you know where we stand in terms of what we think we need to see for IMF participation in a future program, which is as Madam Lagarde has called it, the “two legs,” and that is the reforms and debt relief. As you know, debt relief was a big part of that IEO report you just mentioned.

Are you on Greece, too? Shall we move on from Greece?

QUESTIONER: Do you have any position on this issue created in Greece about ELSTAT Chief, Mr. Georgiou, and do you think, Gerry, that he falsified the data in order to sell the creditors, as the Greek Government is saying?

Another thing they are saying is that he performed his task while he was also working for the IMF. Has the IMF allowed this or given special permission to Mr. Georgiou?

MR. RICE: Mr. Georgiou is a former staff member of the IMF, not a current one, just to clarify that.


MR. RICE: What I’d say on your broader question is we obviously don’t comment on a legal proceeding regarding individual cases. That’s standard practice for us.

I would say we share the concerns expressed by the European Commission on the recent statements in the media by members of the government seem to call into question the accuracy of the data reported by the Greek authorities during the course of Greece’s programs.

We have previously observed that significant progress was made since 2010 in improving the quality of Greek’s statistics with the help of technical assistance from the IMF, ELSTAT, and other member states, and we think it is very important that this progress should be preserved.

So, given the renewed concerns about the Greek statistics raised by this case, again, on which we are not commenting on the individual case, but given the concerns that have been raised by this issue, we will engage with the Greek authorities to ascertain that the information being reported to us is accurate. Of course, this would be critical for any potential Fund participation in a program.

QUESTIONER: Gerry, can you take this question, can you find out if he was working at the same time with the IMF?

MR. RICE: In 2010?

QUESTIONER: In 2010. Can you find out and tell us later?

MR. RICE: I will -- my understanding is he was a former staff member, but let me come back to you on that and clarify. Yes?

QUESTIONER: Can you detail the nature of the mission to Mongolia, recent mission, and whether there are any other new missions planned, and whether there has been any request for financial assistance?

Secondly, we haven’t reported it, so I can’t confirm it, but there are others who have reported Mozambique’s new central bank governor is an IMF economist. His LinkedIn page says he is still an IMF economist. Is he still an IMF staff member?

MR. RICE: That seems to be a recurring theme this morning. It’s true that -- well, one of our staff has been appointed as the Governor of the Central Bank of Mozambique. I don’t know exactly his status today, as of this moment, whether he has resigned from the Fund,

but of course that would be a necessary prerequisite before any of our staff would take up such an appointment.

On the Mongolian issue, what I can tell you is that indeed there was a mission on the ground, August 16 -19, that met with the newly elected government officials. What I can tell you is productive discussions. We’re carefully monitoring the country’s situation, and we stand ready to support Mongolia and the government as it works to address the challenges that it faces.

QUESTIONER: Thank you for that. Just to clarify, normally you categorize your missions as an Article 4 or a technical assistance. Can you categorize this?

MR. RICE: You know; I would characterize this one as again it was a mission to establish early contact with the new authorities. I think a range of issues were discussed and we stand ready to help and we’ll update you as soon as we can.

QUESTIONER: Okay and they have not made a request?

MR. RICE: This is as much as I have for you right now.


MR. SUMMER: My question mainly are current rates for the IMF, World Bank annual meeting. I know the World Bank was working on helping merging developing economies manage their derivative risk based on commodities and really the commodity dependent countries. I was wondering if the IMF is going to pick up the ball now because it has sort of dropped by the way side at the World Bank. The second related question is, do have any policy issues that you’re going to do at the meeting to sort of end energy subsidies in oil producing countries and also maybe does that translate in the West of ending energy subsidies for solar power like in West Germany or the U.S., sort of making a level playing field?

MR. RICE: Yeah, so on your first question, you know, we’ve talked quite a bit, discussed quite a bit the commodities issue and clearly so many countries affected by the drop in commodities, so we’ve been discussing that on an ongoing basis. That also takes place of course in the bilateral basis with our country by country surveillance.

Questioner: Specifically about hedging risks on exchanges.

MR. RICE: I’m not aware of a specific piece of research or, you know, new policy that we have forthcoming for the annual meetings but happy to update you on that. On the annual meetings, it is a bit early to say what the main issues will be, but we can imagine the things the G-20 are going to be discussing this weekend are also going to be still relevant and germane a few weeks later for the annual meeting, so I think the issue is everyone was concerned about the pace of growth. We’re all concerned about excessive inequality, and we’re all looking for a push forward on the reform front. I think Christine Lagarde captures this quite well in the blog that we will be releasing to you shortly. Good morning. I’m going to take this and then go online, and then we have to wrap.

Questioner: Egypt and the SDR. Egypt, do you have an update on when the board meeting might happen to approve that loan program?

MR. RICE: Yes. Again for those who haven’t been following during the summer, well the month of August, August 11 there was an important staff level agreement between the IMF and the Government of Egypt for a program in the amount of $12 billion, that of course pending approval by our Board. So that is supporting the country’s reform program with various elements, which have been described in the press release and other communications that we’ve undertaken. What I can tell you on the Board date is that we would expect that also to be in the coming weeks so things are progressing well in terms of the discussions on the program. As you know, there has been quite a bit of discussion on the financing for the program, and there’s the Fund financing, but then there is also the additional financing that we feel is required from others to complete the financing plan. There is $4 billion from the IMF and five to six billion from others that the Egyptian authorities are seeking to mobilize, and we’re working with them to help secure this.

QUESTIONER: Thanks for that. And then quickly on the SDR, do you have a date when that would actually go live? The RNB joining the SDR? Are things still on track for that?

MR. RICE: Good question. Things are absolutely on track. I do not have the date, but I’ll try and get that for you if it is available. But again, things are absolutely on track for the inclusion of the RNB and the SDR basket.* QUESTIONER: Is it fair to say October?

MR. RICE: Yes, I think that is the month, but I will confirm with you immediately after this briefing so you can report it. I’m going to make this the last one and then I need to take something online.

SPEAKER: Any new fresh contact with Caracas?


SPEAKER: No change there?

MR. RICE: Nothing on Venezuela.

SPEAKER: Great, thank you.

MR. RICE: Thank you. I’m going to, as I said, take a few things online and helps us broaden out the coverage. There is a question on Yemen, so let me take these quickly. It says the IMF has urged the Central Bank, the Government to cooperate. What is the IMF’s view of President Hadi’s proposal to move the Central Bank to Aden and his complaints against the Central Bank and its governor? This relates to the complaints, relate to the proper use of the Central Bank’s foreign exchange reserves, which as the Central Bank itself has suggested in a public letter that issue is best resolved by independent audits. Again, that’s what Governor Bin Humam has recently said in a letter to the president. In addition, we would stress that as recognized by all sidesto the conflict in Yemen, the Central Bank has played over the last 16 months a crucial role in facilitating minimum levels of imports of basic food items, fuel and medicine - thus averting an all-out humanitarian crisis, while at the same time maintaining the stability of banking and payment system in what is an increasingly difficult economic and security environment.

I’m going to take out one more question on Mozambique. He had asked about a question about Mozambique, but it is a different question, and it is asking for an update on where we are to which I can say there will be an IMF staff team in Maputo on September 22 to review economic developments, the 2016 budget, monetary policy measures et cetera. We expect that visit to last about one week, and again as backdrop to this, as you all know, we’ve discussed it here, this visit will also take into account the fact-finding process linked to the previous undisclosed borrowing that had been discovered and assess the macroeconomic situation.

I think there is one more Africa question that I want to take and that’s related to Zimbabwe. Asking for the status there. I just want to clarify as I’ve done here before, there is no financing program under discussion with Zimbabwe at this point. The authorities have announced the plan to clear their arrears with the Fund and other international institutions as part of their reengagement with the international community. They are working on that. Once the arrears would be cleared the IMF’s Board would need to meet and approve the normalization process and any program negotiation, financial support from the IMF could only begin at that point. So it may be useful just to clarify that again on Zimbabwe.

I’m going to leave it there for today. Thank you for your patience. I hope it was useful to have Helge come along, and I’ll see you in two weeks’ time. Nice to see everyone again.

*MR. Rice following that briefing noted October 1st is the date of inclusion of the RNB in the SDR basket.

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