Washington, DC — A mission of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) visited Niamey during November 4-November 12, 2012 for discussions with the authorities of Niger on the first review of the economic program supported by the IMF under the Extended Credit Facility (ECF)1. The arrangement was approved by the Executive Board of the IMF on March 16 2012 (see Press Release No. 12/90) in the amount of SDR 78.96 million (about US$120.97 million).
The mission met with the Prime Minister, Mr. Brigi Rafini; the Minister of Finance, Mr. Giles Baillet; the Minister of State for Planning, Mr.
Amadou Boubacar Cissé; the Minister of Petrol, Mr. Foumakoye Gado; and the Minister of Trade, Mr. Saley Saidou. The mission also met with the National Director of the Central Bank of West African States, Mr.
Mahamadou Gado, other senior officials, and private sector and civil society representatives.
At the end of the mission, Mr. Richard Harmsen, IMF mission chief to Niger issued the following statement:
"The mission had fruitful discussions with the authorities. Economic performance in 2012 is positive, with gross domestic product (GDP) growth projected to reach 11.3 percent. This good performance has largely been driven by the coming on-stream of a new oil project, and a good harvest in August/September. Notwithstanding a rise in headline inflation following the poor harvest of 2011, inflation remains low, thanks to the government's food support programs.
"Budget execution was mixed. Fiscal revenue has been below projections, reflecting lower-than-expected petroleum production, and problems in the implementation of customs administration reforms. Nonetheless, the target for the domestic fiscal balance during the first half of the year was met. Also, the authorities made some progress in the implementation of the structural reform agenda, albeit with delays.
"The economic prospects for 2013 and for the medium-term remain promising. Growth will mainly be supported by the expansion of the extractive sector, with real GDP growth projected at 6.2 percent in 2013. Inflation is expected to stay low during 2013 following the good harvest in 2012. Downward risks to the outlook arise from the fragile security situation in the region and the country's vulnerability to natural disasters, as evidenced by the recent floods.
"The Nigerien authorities have expressed their commitment to keeping the program on track. The mission agreed with the authorities that the government's budget proposal for 2013, which targets an overall fiscal deficit of 4 percent of GDP, is consistent with maintaining macroeconomic stability. The mission also reached understandings on a set of structural measures for the remainder of 2012 and 2013, aimed at strengthening budget execution, the customs administration, and revenue performance, part of which will need to be further discussed in the coming period. In addition, the authorities have confirmed their willingness to pursue their efforts in promoting reforms in the financial sector, and to improve the business climate.
"We thank the authorities for their warm hospitality and for the constructive discussions."
1 The ECF is the main tool the IMF uses to provide a medium-term financial support to low-income countries. It is characterized by the following: a zero percent interest rate, a grace period of five and a half years, and a maturity of ten years.