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Ghana president says will not extend three-year IMF aid programme

Comments (0) Latest Updates from Reuters

ACCRA (Reuters) – Ghana will not extend its three-year aid programme with the International Monetary Fund beyond April 2018, President Nana Akufo-Addo said on Tuesday, despite continuing fiscal difficulties.

The president’s announcement is a surprise turnaround after government officials said last month that Ghana was considering a request by the Washington lender to extend the programme to December 2018.

An extension would have reassured markets of the government’s commitment to fiscal discipline, analysts say.

Akufo-Addo said, however, the government was on target with its policy to restore growth and create private sector jobs.

“There is no question about the IMF programme being extended beyond April 2018. We want to complete it and move on,” Akufo-Addo told reporters.

The $918-million agreement was signed in April 2015 to address problems of slow growth and high public debt.

The IMF said in May that an extension was needed after Ghana failed to meet certain deal requirements on schedule.

 

(Reporting by Kwasi Kpodo; Editing by Edward McAllister and Alison Williams)

 

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Ghana says on track to halve budget deficit after IMF deal

Comments (0) Africa, Latest Updates from Reuters, Politics

ACCRA (Reuters) – Ghana is on target to halve its fiscal deficit this year after its $918-million aid deal with the International Monetary Fund, Finance Minister Seth Terkper said on Wednesday.

His comments appeared designed to allay uncertainty over the deal that emerged this month when parliament rejected a key component that was designed to promote fiscal discipline. The following day the government suspended a planned Eurobond issue.

The government issued a bill to eliminate central bank financing of the budget deficit in line with the requirements of the deal but on Aug. 2 parliament passed the bill with an amendment allowing financing of up to 5 percent.

Ghana’s public debt eased to 63 percent of GDP in May from 72 percent at the end of 2015, while consumer inflation dropped to 16.7 percent in July from 19 percent in January, Terkper said, citing the impact of the deal that began in April 2015.

The central bank expects inflation to slow to 8 percent, plus or minus two, by September 2017.

“We are set to halve the deficit from 12 percent in 2012, and we have also started stemming the rate of growth of the public debt,” he told a meeting of private businesses in Accra.

Ghana, which exports cocoa, gold and oil, signed the assistance programme to bring down inflation and the budget deficit and stabilize the currency.

Terkper said the debt stock could rise marginally to 65-66 percent of GDP on planned disbursements towards the end of the year but will remain below 70 percent.

Ghana pulled out of a planned five-year $500 million amortising Eurobond this month because investors demanded a yield higher than the single digits the government had expected.

Terkper led the government finance team on the deal and said his team only suspended pricing of bids.

“We did not call off the 2016 bond …. What we did was to suspend pricing …. We must sometimes hold our nerves when we’re in the capital market to look for the right window before we strike in order to get the best results,” he said.

Ghana will on Thursday begin pumping oil from a second offshore oil field, Tweneboa-Enyenra-Ntomme or TEN, in addition to its flagship Jubilee production which began in late 2010.

 

(By Kwasi Kpodo. Editing by Matthew Mpoke Bigg)

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Ghana lawmakers back budget funding bill; breach terms of IMF deal

Comments (0) Africa, Business, Latest Updates from Reuters

ACCRA (Reuters) – Ghana’s parliament on Tuesday overwhelmingly rejected a core condition of a $918 million International Monetary Fund (IMF) aid deal on Tuesday, breaching the terms of a three-year programme meant to fix an economy dogged by high public debt.

The lawmakers passed the Bank of Ghana (BoG) Amendment Bill to allow central bank financing of the government’s budget deficit up to a ceiling of 5 percent of the previous year’s total revenue, instead of the zero financing demanded by the IMF.

Until now the bank was authorised to finance the deficit at up to 10 percent of revenue.

Implementation of the zero financing requirement is one of the targets the government was expected to meet in order for the Fund to conclude Ghana’s third programme review and disburse the next tranche of aid.

However, Deputy Finance Minister Cassiel Ato Forson told Reuters that, despite the law, the government will not finance its deficit with central bank funds.

“We have demonstrated enough that the government is committed to expenditure control and we will remain on course, irrespective of today’s decision by parliament,” he said.

 

 

(Reporting by Kwasi Kpodo; Editing by Aaron Ross and John Stonestreet)

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Finance minister: Egypt’s external debt to reach $53.4 billion with IMF loan

Comments (0) Business, Latest Updates from Reuters, Middle East

CAIRO (Reuters) – Egypt’s finance minister said in a television interview on Sunday that Egypt’s external debt would reach $53.4 billion if his country receives an International Monetary Fund (IMF) loan.

Last week Egypt said it was seeking $4 billion a year over three years from the IMF to help plug a funding gap. The government hopes to finalise the deal in August.

A two-week IMF mission arrived in Cairo over the weekend to negotiate an IMF loan package.

 

(Reporting by Ali Abdelatti; Writing by Amina Ismail; Editing by Sandra Maler)

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Egypt says close to securing 3-year IMF loan programme

Comments (0) Business, Latest Updates from Reuters, Middle East

CAIRO (Reuters) – Egypt said on Tuesday it was close to agreeing an International Monetary Fund (IMF) lending programme to ease its funding gap and restore market stability and was seeking to secure $7 billion annually over three years.

Prime Minister Sherif Ismail ordered the central bank governor and minister of finance to complete negotiations for the programme with an IMF team that will visit Egypt in the next few days, the cabinet said in a statement.

“We are resorting to the IMF because the budget deficit is very high, between 11 and 13 percent within the past six years,” finance minister Amr el-Garhy, said in a phone interview with presenter Lamis El-Hadeedi on a private TV channel late on Tuesday.

In Washington, the IMF welcomed Egypt’s request for financial support and said it would send a mission to Egypt for about two weeks from July 30.

The cabinet statement, after a five-hour meeting, was the first official confirmation that talks with the IMF were under way. The statement said talks had been ongoing for three months.

“The prime minister stressed the need to cooperate with the IMF through the support program to enhance international confidence in the economy and attract foreign investment, and therefore achieve monetary and financial stability … targeting $7 billion annually to fund the program over three years,” the cabinet statement said.

The government is seeking $12 billion from the IMF, $4 billion a year, which will carry an interest rate of 1 or 1.5 percent, el-Garhy said. The package includes issuing $2-3 billion in international bonds which will be offered as soon as possible, between September and October, he added.

Economists welcomed the news, which came after a turbulent few weeks for Egypt’s currency, the pound, which has plummeted to new lows on the black market as confusion mounted over the direction of monetary policy.

“It’s great. Finally,” said Hany Genena, head of research at Beltone Securities Brokerage. “Confidence will be restored in the government and central bank. Secondly, we will see flotation of the pound, if not tomorrow, next week, the week after.”

Genena said he expected the Cairo stock market to surge after the news and for the currency to strengthen on the black market. The black market had already strengthened slightly from lows near 13 to the dollar on Monday.

Two black market traders contacted by Reuters said they were selling dollars at about 12.80 to 12.85 pounds after the IMF deal was announced.

“I think the stock index will hit 8,000 in the next couple of days,” Genena added. The benchmark EGX30 <.EGX30> closed up 0.3 percent at 7,540 on Tuesday.

Egypt’s economy has been struggling since a mass uprising in 2011 ushered in political instability that drove away tourists and foreign investors, both major earners of foreign currency. Reserves have halved to about $17.5 billion since then.

The dollar shortage has forced Egypt to introduce capital controls that have hit trade and growth, while the value of the Egyptian pound has plummeted on the black market in recent weeks as expectations of a second devaluation this year mount.

The government has pushed ahead with its reform programme, including plans for a value added tax (VAT) and subsidy cuts that were put on hold when global oil prices dropped.

A VAT bill is in its final stages of preparation but has faced resistance in parliament due to concerns over inflation, which has touched seven-year highs since the currency was devalued by 13 percent in March.

Egypt’s ambitious home-grown fiscal reform programme formed the basis of a $3 billion three-year loan deal with the World Bank that was signed in December. But the cash has yet to be disbursed since the World Bank is waiting for parliament to ratify economic reforms including VAT.

A cabinet minister told Reuters last month that Egypt had started negotiations with the IMF and that the central bank was leading the talks.

A statement released by Capital Economics, an independent economic research company, also welcomed the news.

“If approved, this would help to plug Egypt’s external financing requirement and improve the economy’s growth prospects,” it said. “This would make a sizeable dent in Egypt’s gross external financing requirement, which we estimate to be around $25 billion over the coming year.”

 

(Reporting by Amina Ismail and Lin Noueihed; Additional reporting by David Lawder in Washington; Writing by Lin Noueihed; Editing by Tom Heneghan and James Dalgleish)

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Corruption in South Africa stunting reforms: IMF

Comments (0) Africa, Business, Latest Updates from Reuters

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) – Corruption in South Africa is hampering reforms needed to boost economic growth and greater transparency is needed at state-owned companies, a senior International Monetary Fund (IMF) official said on Tuesday.

IMF First Deputy Managing Director David Lipton said that cutting taxes and increasing government spending would not solve the problem of sluggish growth in Africa’s most sophisticated economy.

The IMF recently cut its growth forecast to only 0.1 percent for 2016 versus a previous estimate of 0.6 in May, citing the impact of severe drought and ineffective fiscal policy.

President Jacob Zuma’s unexplained decision to change finance ministers twice in four days in December and a series of political upheavals that followed had also hurt the economy’s prospects, Lipton said.

“The leadership changes at the National Treasury last December and other political developments have had an adverse impact,” he told a public lecture in Johannesburg.

“They have heightened concerns about governance, deepened political uncertainty and shaken investor confidence.”

Lipton also alluded to investors’ lack of faith in the management of South Africa’s 300-odd state-owned enterprises, many of which are over-staffed and under-productive.

A team commissioned by Zuma to review the firms recommended that some should be sold but nothing has happened.

“Support for money-losing companies is a growing drain on government coffers,” Lipton said.

As a solution, he suggested South Africa centralise the formulation of fiscal policy, reduce labour regulation uncertainty and root out public sector corruption.

 

(Reporting by Mfuneko Toyana; Editing by Ed Cropley)

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IMF agrees $150 mil credit facility with Niger

Comments (0) Africa, Business, Latest Updates from Reuters

NIAMEY (Reuters) – The IMF has agreed a $149.7 million extended credit facility to Niger, one of the world’s poorest countries, with the first $17.1 million tranche to be paid immediately, its finance minister said on Thursday.

“Niger continues to record key progress in the implementation of its programme,” Saidou Sidibe said in a statement.

Niger, a main supplier of uranium to French nuclear power plants, has suffered a double economic hit over the years from insecurity at the hands of Islamist Boko Haram militants operating in its southeast and poor harvests caused by erratic weather.

The IMF expects the economy to grow 5.2 percent this year, after some improvements in agriculture, oil and mining. The land-locked West African nation is currently ranked bottom of the U.N. Human Development Index out of 188 countries.

 

 

(Reporting by Boureima Balima; Writing by Tim Cocks, Editing by Angus MacSwan)

 

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Angola halves growth forecast, cuts spending as oil price bites

Comments (0) Africa, Business, Latest Updates from Reuters

LUANDA (Reuters) – Angola has halved its 2016 economic growth forecast and slashed government spending as lower oil prices hammer state revenues in Africa’s largest crude exporter, the finance ministry said on Monday.

Sub-Saharan Africa’s third-largest economy will grow 1.3 percent this year, compared with a previous forecast of 3.3 percent, the finance ministry said in a statement.

Government spending will be cut to $24 billion from $30 billion projected in the original 2016 budget as revenues were also slashed to $18 billion from $24.4 billion.

The statement, a rare disclosure by one of Africa’s most secretive states, said Luanda had borrowed $11.46 billion between November 2015 and June 2016, including $5 billion from the China Development Bank and $2 billion from other state-backed Chinese lenders.

Total government debt stood at $47.9 billion, including $25.5 billion in external loans, it added, although this figure does not include debt held by state-owned companies such as domestic oil firm Sonangol.

Cuts to public services have already had a major impact on the former Portuguese colony, with piles of uncollected rubbish lying rotting in the streets of the capital, in the shadow of half-finished concrete office blocks and shopping complexes.

Health experts say the spending reductions are partly to blame for a yellow fever outbreak that started in one of Luanda’s vast slums in December and which has spread throughout the country and as far afield as China.

The finance ministry confirmed it had ended emergency financing talks with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) because it had achieved “great fiscal equilibrium”.

However, it said it was still committed to a structural overhaul of an economy that remains perilously reliant on oil.

The finance ministry has cut its budgetary oil price assumption to $41 a barrel, from $45 previously. Crude oil output remains steady at 1.77 million barrels per day, it said.

 

(Writing by Joe Brock; Editing by Ed Cropley)

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IMF welcomes Nigeria’s decision to end currency peg

Comments (0) Africa, Business, Latest Updates from Reuters

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The International Monetary Fund said on Thursday it welcomed the decision by Nigeria’s central bank to abandon its currency peg and adopt a flexible exchange rate policy, saying this was important to reduce fiscal and external imbalances.

IMF spokesman Gerry Rice told a weekly news briefing the Fund wanted to see how effectively the naira exchange market functions once the new float system is put into effect next Monday.

Nigeria’s central bank governor said in a letter to President Muhammadu Buhari the bank expects the naira to settle at around 250 to the dollar after it abandons the peg of 197 to the dollar it has supported for 16 months.

“I think the announcement yesterday to revise the guidelines for the operation of the Nigerian interbank foreign exchange market is an important and welcome step,” Rice told reporters. “It will provide greater flexibility in that market, the foreign exchange market.”

Senior IMF officials, including Managing Director Christine Lagarde, have urged Nigerian officials to allow the naira to fall to absorb some of the shock to the economy from a plunge in oil prices and revenues. OPEC member Nigeria is a major oil producer. IMF officials have said that Nigeria has not requested IMF financial assistance, but has been in consultation with the Fund on dealing with budget shortfalls.

“As we have said before, a significant macroeconomic adjustment that Nigeria urgently needs to eliminate existing imbalances and support the competitiveness of the economy is best achieved through a credible package of policies involving fiscal discipline, monetary tightening, a flexible exchange rate regime and structural reform,” Rice said. “Allowing the exchange rate to better reflect market forces is an integral part of that.”

 

(Reporting by David Lawder; Editing by James Dalgleish)

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IMF says Angola needs fiscal prudence in run-up to 2017 elections

Comments (0) Africa, Business, Latest Updates from Reuters

LUANDA (Reuters) – Angola needs to maintain fiscal prudence in the run-up to the 2017 elections, an International Monetary Fund (IMF) team said on Tuesday after a two-week visit to the oil producing country.

Angola’s economy grew fast after a 27-year civil war ended in 2002, peaking at growth of 12 percent three years ago, but a sharp drop in oil prices has sapped dollar inflows, dented the kwanza and prompted heavy government borrowing.

Oil output represents 40 percent of Angola’s gross domestic product and more than 95 percent of foreign exchange revenue in sub-Saharan Africa’s third biggest economy.

The IMF team said the outlook for 2016 remained difficult, despite the increase of oil prices in recent weeks.

The global lender also warned that economic activity will likely decelerate further, adding that a modest recovery could be expected in 2017 if shortages of dollars are tackled.

“The significant fiscal effort carried out last year was a very important step to assuage fiscal and public debt sustainability concerns,” Ricardo Velloso, who led the team, said in a statement.

“However, further steps are still needed to reduce vulnerabilities, and maintaining fiscal prudence in the run-up to the 2017 elections will be critical.”

The IMF team arrived in Angola on June 1 to discuss options on how to diversify the economy and reduce the dependence on the oil sector, Angolan authorities have said.

 

(Writing by Nqobile Dludla; Editing by James Macharia)

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