On behalf of my Nigerien authorities, I would like to express my appreciation to staff for the constructive policy dialogue held in the context of the fourth review of the three year arrangement under the PRGF-supported program. I also wish to convey to management and Executive Board my authorities’ appreciation of their support to Fund’s continued involvement in Niger. Reflecting their broad agreement with the staff’s analysis and policy recommendations, my authorities have consented to the publication of the letter of intent as well as the staff report.
My authorities are well aware of the challenges ahead, in particular the need for improving social indicators, strengthening domestic revenue collection, and enhancing the business climate. They are cognizant that further commitment is needed to reduce the high vulnerability of the Nigerien economy, which has undermined over the past their efforts to put the economy on the path of a solid and sustainable growth, less sensitive to weather vagaries, locust invasion, and other exogenous shocks. To this end, my Nigerien authorities have maintained their resolve to implement the PRGF program achieving all but two program performance criteria for end 2006. Corrective actions for the two missed criteria have been taken. Furthermore, the medium-term expenditure framework for rural sector and transport has been completed; food security has been strengthened and a new poverty reduction strategy is being finalized. Several reform measures to reinforce public expenditure management and strengthen domestic revenue are being implemented, including measures to ensure more transparency in the management of natural resources. Through the ongoing policy actions, my Nigerien authorities expect to achieve significant improvement of human development indicators. My authorities request waiver for missed performance criteria. They are also requesting modifications of the two quantitative performance criteria for the remainder 2007 as well as the completion of the fourth review under the PRGF.