End-of-Mission press releases include statements of IMF staff teams that convey preliminary findings after a visit to a country. The views expressed in this statement are those of the IMF staff and do not necessarily represent the views of the IMF’s Executive Board. Based on the preliminary findings of this mission, staff will prepare a report that, subject to management approval, will be presented to the IMF's Executive Board for discussion and decision.
IMF Mission reached a staff level agreement with the authorities on economic and financial policies that could support the completion of the fourth program review.
Economic growth is strengthening. Stronger private sector supported by sound public finances and good governance are the linchpin for achieving higher living standards.
Implementation of the government’s reform program supported by the IMF under the Extended Credit Facility arrangement has been satisfactory despite challenges.
An International Monetary Fund (IMF) staff team led by Christoph A. Klingen visited Niamey from May 15 to May 28, 2019 to hold discussions on the fourth review of the program supported by the Extended Credit Facility (ECF) arrangement and to conduct the 2019 Article IV Consultation. Niger’s program was approved by the IMF Board on January 23, 2017 (see Press Release no 17/18).
At the end of the visit, Mr. Klingen issued the following statement:
“The Nigerien authorities and the IMF mission have reached staff-level agreement for the completion of the fourth review of the ECF-supported program. Consideration by the Executive Board of the IMF is tentatively scheduled for late June 2019.
“Program implementation has been satisfactory, and the government of Niger remains strongly committed to the reforms in its Social and Economic Development Program 2017-2021, supported by the ECF arrangement.
“Macroeconomic stability remains firmly in place, and last year’s estimated growth of 6.5 percent beat expectations despite rising security challenges. Growth next year should remain strong, driven by robust construction and services activities, as well as a rebound in oil production. It is expected to average just above 7 percent over the next five years, buttressed by new projects, notably a pipeline for crude oil exports, and greater efficiency in agriculture supported by the government’s food security plan, the 3N Initiative. These projects’ local content and fiscal contributions are the key benefits to the domestic economy. Inflation is expected to remain safely below the West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU) ceiling of 3 percent in 2019.
“The fiscal situation remains broadly satisfactory, with the overall deficit having improved to 4.1 percent in 2018 from 5.7 percent of GDP in 2017. The authorities are determined to reach the WAEMU convergence criterion of a fiscal balance of 3 percent of GDP in 2020. However, the clearance of domestic arrears fell behind schedule due to temporary strain in the regional financial markets and to pressing security expenditures. The authorities will undertake a strong effort in the coming weeks to pay them down and strengthen cash management to avoid their reemergence. Generally, the reform emphasis remains focused on revenue mobilization through widening the tax base and higher quality in public spending.
“On the broader structural reform agenda, the IMF mission welcomes the authorities’ efforts to improve the business environment; honing these to address the specific needs of the local formal private sector is the next step. Strengthening incentives to expand the formal private sector, ensuring affordable credit as well as distributing the fiscal pressures more equally, will be important. Jobs training and higher quality education are critical to allow Niger to gain more from the jobs generated by foreign investments. Recent measures to increase school attendance, especially for girls, will help achieve national objectives for gender equality. Ongoing reforms of the civil service and public enterprises and establishments will help make government more efficient and transparent. The Mission also welcomes Niger’s efforts on good governance and the fight against corruption.
“The team met with the President of the Republic Issoufou Mahamadou and the Prime Minister Brigi Rafini. It met the Minister of Finance, Mamadou Diop, the Minister in charge of Planning, Aïchatou Boulama Kané, the Minister in charge of the Budget, Ahmat Jidoud other minister, and the National Director of the Central Bank of African States (BCEAO). Staff also met with senior officials in the administration and representatives of the private sector, civil society, and the donor community.”
The IMF team would like to thank the authorities for their hospitality and for the fruitful dialogue.
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of International Monetary Fund (IMF).