At the outset, I would like to convey Burkina Faso’s authorities appreciation for the continued support of Executive Directors and Management. I would also like to thank Staff for continued constructive policy advice and valuable technical assistance provided to the authorities.
Thanks to continued implementation of sound economic policies the authorities have, despite an adverse external environment, realized a real GDP growth rate of 5 percent in 2008, an increase from to the 3.6 percent growth rate recorded when the program started. This acceleration reflected the success of the measures taken by my authorities to diversify and improve productivity in the agricultural sector, and increased gold production. Inflation abated recently settling at 6.8 percent year-on-year in March 2009 after reaching 15.1 percent in June 2008 on account of the commodities and oil price shocks. Furthermore, all quantitative performance criteria and most of the benchmarks set under the program were met. Notably, my authorities increased revenue collection, contained the overall deficit within the program limits, even though they increased spending in order to mitigate the impact of the multiple exogenous shocks.
Going forward, my authorities are cognizant of the challenges ahead, including the risks posed by a deepening of the global downturn, high poverty rates and the economy’s exposure to exogenous shocks. They remain committed to implement sound policies with the support of their development partners, including the IMF. To that regard, they are requesting the completion of the fourth review under the PRGF supported program and the modification of performance criteria on the ceilling on overall fiscal deficit to allow for a slightly higher deficit reflecting the impact of the current global downturn, and on tax policy reform to reflect recent board decision on structural conditionality.