The Executive Board of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) today approved a three-year, SDR 6.66 billion (about US$10 billion) Stand-By Arrangement to support Turkey’s economic and financial program through May 2008. An amount equivalent to SDR 555.17 million (about US$837.5 million) will be made available immediately, with the remaining balance distributed in eleven equal installments. The Board also approved a one-year extension of Turkey’s repurchase expectations totaling SDR 2.52 billion (about US$3.80 billion) arising in 2006.
Following the Executive Board’s discussion on Turkey, Mr. Rodrigo de Rato, Managing Director and Chairman, made the following statement:
“Turkey’s economic performance is at its strongest in a generation. Growth was 8 percent on average over the last three years, while inflation has fallen to single digits, its lowest level in more than 30 years. Strong policy implementation under the previous Fund-supported program has given rise to this impressive performance. Together with the EU’s decision to open accession negotiations, this signals a sea change in Turkey’s economic prospects.
“The authorities’ new three-year program is designed to extend these gains in economic performance and reduce Turkey’s remaining vulnerabilities. The government’s commitment to maintain the primary surplus target at 6½ percent of GNP will steadily reduce the public debt and help contain the current account deficit. Continued independence of the central bank, together with next year’s introduction of full inflation targeting, will help consolidate the reduction in inflation. These macroeconomic policies should facilitate further reductions in interest rates and generate sustained growth.
“Implementation of structural fiscal reform will be central to the success of the new program. The tax administration reform should be implemented in full to improve compliance and reduce the size of the underground economy. Tax reform needs to focus on raising revenues by simplifying the tax system and eliminating exemptions. Selective tax relief erodes the tax base, undermines compliance and should be avoided. Expenditure reform should gradually reduce the social security deficit, while improving the quality of spending.
“The authorities’ structural reform agenda should also help sustain growth. Passage of the new Banking Law later this year should strengthen banking supervision, while the SDIF is making progress towards resolving the stock of non-performing assets. Success in this year’s privatizations and implementation of the recommendations of this year’s Investment Advisory Council should help improve the business climate. Labor market flexibility will also need to be improved to ensure that Turkey’s recent strong growth performance results in new job creation.
“Through their strong policies, the Turkish authorities have transformed Turkey’s economic performance, while reforms associated with EU accession negotiations hold out the promise for further economic advance. Turkey deserves the support of the international community on the strength of its impressive track record under the last Fund-supported program and the policies proposed under the new arrangement. The challenge now for the authorities is to implement the new program in full in order to sustain and build on this recent success.”
On the issue of the non-complying disbursement, Mr. de Rato said:
“The Executive Board reviewed a non-complying purchase made by Turkey under its previous Stand-By Arrangement. Revised data indicate that expenditure levels reported to assess the 2002 primary balance for the fourth review were slightly higher than reported to the Board at the time. The Executive Board took note of the improvements brought about in the collection and dissemination of the data in question and concluded that the deviation was minor (0.13 percent of GNP) and did not alter the assessment of the fiscal situation under the program. Accordingly, the Executive Board granted Turkey’s request for a waiver of the noncomplying purchase.”