IMF Concludes Eighth SBA Review Mission to Antigua and BarbudaPress Release No. 12/431
November 12, 2012
An International Monetary Fund (IMF) mission led by Geoffrey Bannister visited Antigua and Barbuda during November 5–9, to undertake the eighth review of the program under a Stand -By Arrangement (SBA) approved by the Fund’s Executive Board on June 7, 2010 (see Press Release No. 10/232). The mission held meetings with Minister of Finance Hon. Harold Lovell, senior officials of the Ministry of Finance, members of the Task Force on the Citizenship by Investment Program, the Financial Services Regulatory Commission, representatives of statutory bodies and the local business community. The mission also held a videoconference with the Governor and key staff of the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB). The mission would like to thank the authorities and technical staff for their excellent cooperation.
At the conclusion of the mission, Mr. Bannister issued the following statement in St. Johns:
“The focus of the mission was to assess the quantitative performance at end-September 2012 under the SBA and the progress of ongoing financial and structural reforms; review progress on the resolution of Antigua and Barbuda Investment Bank (ABIB); and confirm fiscal targets for the 2013 budget. Initial indications suggest that the performance criterion on the overall fiscal balance target for September may have been missed. Additional information to confirm this will be forthcoming in the next two weeks. The mission discussed with the authorities corrective measures to ensure that December 2012 fiscal targets would be met and also came to agreement on the fiscal program for 2013, which will be presented in the budget.
“Revenue performance in the first three quarters of 2012 was below program targets, but it was well above the same period last year, and is expected to outperform in the fourth quarter and for the year. Expenditure in the first three quarters of the year was within program targets. For 2013, the fiscal program is expected to be consistent with a central government primary surplus for the year of 3 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and a central government overall surplus of 0.3 percent of GDP.
“Progress has been made on the financial and structural reform agenda, although there have been delays. The mission overlapped with a technical assistance mission for revenue administration that pointed to good progress in Inland Revenue as well as increasing traction in Customs, although at a slower pace. The authorities are also pressing forward with the resolution process for ABIB, which is expected to be completed by the first quarter of 2013.
“Several structural benchmarks were completed, including a valuation/compliance audit on petroleum imports and increased compliance of state-owned enterprises with their tax obligations. A number of important benchmarks are expected to be completed by January, 2013, including: (i) enactment of the new Tax Administration Procedures Act (TAPA); (ii) activation of legislation authorizing the garnishment of overdue ABST and personal income taxes (as part of TAPA); (iii) tax compliance of 20 out of 23 statutory bodies; (iv) the presentation and passage of a New Customs Act; and (v) the implementation of the Harmonized System 2007 customs code.
“The mission met with several state owned entities, including the Antigua Public Utilities Authority (APUA), the Antigua Port Authority, St. John’s Development Corporation, and the Social Security Board. Discussions focused on the financial situation of the statutory bodies and possible reforms, in preparation for a technical assistance mission which will visit St. John’s in January, 2013 to help assess contingent liabilities for the central government from statutory bodies.
“The authorities continue to demonstrate strong commitment to the policies and objectives of their Fiscal Consolidation Program, and recognize the importance of strong macroeconomic, financial and structural policies in achieving the goals of their National Economic and Social Transformation plan. Carrying out the plan remains essential to achieving long-term economic growth and job creation. Discussions with the authorities will be ongoing on the end-December fiscal outcomes and progress on structural reforms. The mission is expected to return to Antigua and Barbuda in mid-February 2013.”