Statement by the IMF Staff Mission to Niger
NIAMEY, Niger, November 7, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ -- A staff team from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) led by Mr. Cheikh Anta Gueye visited Niamey from October 21to November 3, 2014, for discussions on the 2014 Article IV consultation and the fourth and fifth reviews of the program supported by the Extended Credit Facility arrangement (ECF). The discussions covered the implementation of the program as well as economic and financial developments in 2014, the medium-term outlook and the policies needed to consolidate macroeconomic stability and foster inclusive growth.
At the conclusion of the mission, Mr. Gueye issued the following statement:
“Niger's overall macroeconomic performance has been generally satisfactory. Economic growth slowed to 4.1 percent in 2013 largely due to the adverse climatic conditions on agricultural production and the regional security situation, despite a significant increase in oil production. Inflation was contained to 2.3 percent in 2013 as food prices fell thanks to the government's food security program supported by development partners, and improved food markets. However, limited government resources and project implementation capacity continued to weigh on public investment.
“Program performance was mixed, with the budget experiencing repeated shocks. All performance criteria were met at end-December 2013 and end-June 2014, except the criterion on domestic financing of the government, which was missed on account of unexpected security and food expenditures and a shortfall in external financing. For the same period, fiscal targets were met, except for those on the basic fiscal balance and total revenues at end-June 2014, which were missed when adverse security shocks required additional expenditures against the background of shortfalls in customs revenues. Also, the floor on poverty reduction spending was missed at end-2013 and June 2014.
“The medium-term outlook remains favorable. Growth is expected to rebound to 6.5 percent in 2014 and be sustained over the medium term as two large natural resource projects — crude oil export and uranium production — are scheduled to begin in 2017 and 2019, respectively. Risks to the outlook stem from both internal and external sources. The main near-term risk is a further deterioration in the regional security situation, which could severely impact FDI inflows, private sector activity, and the budget. The country also remains vulnerable to climate shocks, commodity price volatility and limited predictability in donor support.
“The Article IV discussions focused on enhancing food security, leveraging regional trade to increase growth, and promoting the middle class and financial inclusion. Preparations of the 2015 budget are well advanced, and the authorities' focus on strengthening investments in infrastructure, health and education while maintaining a sustainable fiscal stance seems appropriate. The mission stressed the need to ensure efficiency of spending through structural reforms. The mission and the authorities also agreed on a revised structural reforms calendar.
“The mission met with H.E. Senior Minister Bazoum, Acting Prime Minister, members of the government, senior administrative officials, and representatives of civil society and the private sector.
“The mission thanks the Nigerien authorities for the fruitful discussions and their warm hospitality.
“The IMF Executive Board is expected to complete the 2014 Article IV consultation and consider the ECF review in December 2014.”