News Brief: IMF Managing Director Horst Köhler's Remarks in Mauritania
October 17, 2002
International Monetary Fund Managing Director Horst Köhler made the following statement on October 15, 2002, after a meeting with President Taya in Nouakchott:
"President Taya and I have had a very fruitful meeting today. Allow me to thank His Excellency for his warm welcome on this, my first, visit to Mauritania.
"Our discussions have revealed a shared understanding of Mauritania's accomplishments and of the challenges that lie ahead:
- Mauritania has made strong progress under the Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility (PRGF), the latest of a series of IMF-supported economic reform programs over the past decade. Thanks to your efforts, Mauritania has achieved robust economic growth and low inflation, and—most important—made progress in reducing poverty. I was impressed that the President made clear that fighting poverty is Mauritania's top priority. These efforts have been strengthened by the successful implementation of a Poverty Reduction Strategy, which outlines Mauritania's approach to reducing poverty over the medium term. We, at the IMF, have supported you in these efforts and I congratulate you on your achievements.
- Allow me also to congratulate Mauritania on recently reaching the completion point under the Initiative for Heavily Indebted Poor Countries, earning substantial debt relief, including from the IMF and our sister institution the World Bank. Debt relief under the Initiative amounts to $US1.1 billion. We discussed the progress in strengthening implementation capacity to ensure these resources go toward increased social spending.
"His Excellency the President and I share the view that while a stable macroeconomic economic environment has benefited Mauritania—and remains a prerequisite for growth—major challenges remain, both to quicken the pace of sustainable growth and to reduce poverty. We have had the opportunity to discuss some of these challenges, including:
- The need to continue efforts to improve public expenditure management, in part to better target social and poverty-reducing expenditure; and
- The need to improve the operation of the foreign exchange market as an essential step for improving the business environment, enhancing growth and reducing poverty.
"I was struck by the commitment of the authorities to continue the course of opening up the economy and integrating it into the global economy. We agreed that advanced economies should make more rapid progress in opening their markets and in phasing out trade distorting subsidies. In this regard, we also agreed on the importance of ensuring that globalization works for all, including small, developing economies.
"The IMF stands ready to assist Mauritania in completing its reform agenda. We are confident that the authorities will meet these important future challenges and we wish you every success."