Since the staff report was issued, the staff received the following information which does not change the thrust of the staff appraisal:
Reflecting stronger-than-expected hydrocarbon export volumes in the latter part of the year, hydrocarbon export proceeds reached $18.0 billion in 2002 (from a projected amount of $17.5 billion).
Gross foreign exchange reserves increased to $23.1 billion at end-December 2002 (20.5 months of goods and services) and to $24.3 billion at end-January 2003 from a projected amount of $22.5 billion in the staff report for December 2002.
The outstanding stock of medium-and long-term external debt reached $22.7 billion at end-2002 (against a projected stock of $21.6 billion for 2002). The increase appears to be due to somewhat higher drawings ($1.4 billion against a projected amount of $ 1.1 billion) and to valuation effects (rise in the euro exchange rate vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar).
Treasury deposits at the Bank of Algeria rose to DA 430.6 billion at end-December 2002 (i.e., 10.1 percent of the projected 2002 GDP) from DA 414.1 billion at end-December 2001 (9.8 percent of the 2001 GDP).
Monetary data at end-September 2002 (latest figures available for the banking system) show a growth of money and quasi money of 22.4 percent over September 2001.
The 12-month average inflation rate (as measured by the consumer price index, CPI) was 1.4 percent, as projected in the staff report. Owing in part to a further rise in food prices, the monthly inflation rate edged up by 0.7 percent in December 2002 (and 2.4 percent in November 2002).
The 12-month moving average real effective exchange rate to November 2002 showed a depreciation of the dinar by 6.1 percent.
The Algerian press recently reported that the trade union Union Générale des Travailleurs Algériens (UGTA) called for a general strike on February 25 and 26, 2003 in support of demands for increased transparency in the government’s privatization policies and a wage increase.