I would like to convey my Nigerien authorities’ deep appreciation of the strong relationship and constructive dialogue that Niger maintains with the Fund. In particular, they thank staff for their collaborative engagement. The valuable policy advice of staff has been critical in contributing to maintain the PRGF program on track, particularly in a context of security concerns in the northern part of the country, which is compounded by the high—and still rising—oil and food prices, as well as cereal security concerns. My authorities appreciate staff’s analysis on the key challenges facing the country over the medium term, and they look forward to continued dialogue on the policy priorities for the period ahead.
The successful implementation of the two consecutive PRGF arrangements over 2000-2004 and 2005-2008, as well as the lessons drawn from the satisfactory execution of the 2002- 2005 PRSP, has enhanced my Nigerien authorities’ program ownership. Such a positive development has contributed to improving their ability to manage Fund-supported programs, while enhancing the credibility of their commitment to future reforms. As many challenges still lie ahead, and given the remaining institutional and human capacity gaps, continuous Fund engagement in Niger is of critical importance. In this regard, in implementing a new Fund-supported program, my authorities intend to build upon the positive outcomes obtained during the current program, in particular by further improving the country’s financial position through the strengthening of existing revenue mobilization measures and a better control of quality expenditures, while taking advantage of lessons drawn from weaknesses experienced throughout these years.
Based on their policy and reform track record since the last review, my authorities request waivers for the two missed performance criteria and the completion of the sixth review under the current PRGF program. They also request Board’s approval of a successor PRGF program to enable them to tackle the remaining macroeconomic and structural reform challenges the country still faces.