The three-year arrangement under the Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility (PRGF) that was approved by the Executive Board of the IMF in March 1998 in support of Cote d'lvoire's adjustment efforts went off track after the first year. In the cocoa and coffee sectors, the measures that were supposed to accompany the liberalization process, such as the strengthening of producer organizations and the rehabilitation of rural infrastructure, were not fully implemented. Executive Directors welcomed the conclusion of discussions on a Staff-Monitored Program (SMP).
In 2010, average inflation has remained low in all West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU) countries, but has edged up in the second half of the year. After a moderate fiscal easing by about 1½ percentage points of GDP in 2009, mostly the result of higher capital spending, the area-wide average deficit is estimated to have declined slightly to 3.1 percent of GDP in 2010. A compression of imports in 2009, the region’s external current account deficit is estimated to have returned to about 5½ percent of GDP in 2010.
In recent years, the IMF has released a growing number of reports and other documents covering economic and financial developments and trends in member countries. Each report, prepared by a staff team after discussions with government officials, is published at the option of the member country.
This paper reviews the performance of Guinea-Bissau Under the program supported by Emergency Post-Conflict Assistance (EPCA). Guinea-Bissau has made progress in stabilizing its fiscal situation under difficult circumstances and is moving steadily to implement structural reforms. Four of the six end-March quantitative indicators were met; the other two are expected to be met for the year as a whole. All structural indicators were implemented, albeit with some delay. The authorities recognize the importance of accelerating structural fiscal reforms to further build capacity and improve confidence in the economy.
International Monetary Fund. External Relations Dept.
George T. Abed, a Palestinian and a Jordanian national, took over this summer as Director of the IMF’s Middle Eastern Department. In his distinguished 20-year career at the IMF, he has worked on the Middle East and on fiscal policy issues worldwide. Outside the IMF, he taught at the University of California, Berkeley, and managed a development assistance foundation in Geneva, Switzerland. Laura Wallace spoke with him about the region’s prospects amid political tensions and difficult economic challenges. Besides modernizing the state and liberalizing the region’s economy, he stressed the paramount importance of democracy, human development, and attention to social needs.
Do exchange-rate-based stabilizations generate distinctive economic dynamics? To address this question, this paper identifies stabilization episodes using criteria that differ from those in previous empirical studies of exchange-rate-based stabilizations. We find that, while some differences can be detected between exchange-rate-based stabilizations and stabilizations where the exchange rate is not the anchor, the behavior of important variables does not appear to differ—especially output growth, which is good in both cases. There is also no evidence that fiscal discipline is enhanced by adopting an exchange-rate anchor, or that there are any systematic differences in the success records of stabilizations that use the exchange rate as a nominal anchor and those that do not.
The CFA franc zone has had one of the longest experiences with a fixed exchange rate for a convertible currency and regional integration of any group of developing countries. France, the anchor country, provides aid to support the zone. This paper asks whether the arrangements are more than just an aid substitute. The paper addresses this issue by evaluating the overall performance of the zone over the period 1960-2004. The analysis reveals that when the zone is hit by a negative shock, France increases its aid, thereby acting as a shock absorber. However, it also finds that the zone displays strong performance in two areas-price stability and fiscal policy. Thus the paper concludes that the arrangements are not an aid substitute; they have real macroeconomic value for the zone and complement aid.
With the exception of Burkina Faso and Mali, the growth experience for WAEMU countries has been disappointing, even when compared to other sub-Saharan African (SSA) countries. The main objective of the paper is to investigate why the quest for a growth takeoff has been more elusive in the WAEMU countries compared to other SSA countries. To do this, the paper focuses on the determinants of growth accelerations and decelerations in SSA and the WAEMU. It finds that the variables most closely associated with growth accelerations and decelerations in SSA are changes in terms of trade, private investment, civil tension, real exchange rates, and inflation. Second, as found elsewhere in the literature, there is a certain asymmetry between accelerations and decelerations, in both frequency and determinants, and that the WAEMU region is quite different from the rest of SSA.
The first part of this paper lays out the process of program design and briefly describes some of the analytical tools--including the financial programming framework, the balance sheet approach, and the debt sustainability template--employed by Fund country teams in advising national authorities on policy formulation. The second part of paper seeks to assess how well this process works in practice.
São Tomé and Príncipe is a small, island country with some 138,000 inhabitants; its resources are limited, and its GDP per capita is estimated at about US$295 (1998). The economy is heavily dependent on cocoa, which accounts for 96 percent of export goods. The country has liberalized the economy and reduced the role of government in productive activities in the 1990s. The government has successfully implemented a staff-monitored program in 1998–99 that has turned around the primary budget balance from a deficit to a surplus, reduced inflation, and has helped improve real GDP growth.