A team from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) led by Michel Lazare, Assistant Director in the IMF’s African Department, visited Abidjan during September 9—25, 2015, to conduct discussions on the eighth and final review of Côte d’Ivoire economic and financial program supported by the Extended Credit Facility (ECF) Discussions focused on recent economic developments, growth prospects, and structural reforms to ensure long-term fiscal sustainability and strengthen the financial sector.
At the conclusion of the visit, Mr. Michel Lazare issued the following statement: “The Côte d’Ivoire authorities and the IMF team reached a staff-level agreement for completing the eighth review of the ECF-supported program. Subject to approval by IMF management and the Executive Board, the government’s policies could be supported with a disbursement of SDR 48.78 million (about US$68.45 million or CFAF41 billion). Executive Board consideration is expected for early December 2015. “Macroeconomic performance in the first half of 2015 remained strong, with low inflation and robust real GDP growth. Budget execution was also satisfactory with revenues exceeding the program’s target while expenditure was higher than expected due to the acceleration of investment projects. Pro-poor spending exceeded the expected amount. All performance criteria and quantitative indicative targets, for end-June 2015 under the ECF arrangement were observed.” “Significant progress has been made in the implementation of structural reforms, especially on the completion of the clearance of audited domestic arrears, the timely reimbursement of VAT credits, the sale of government holdings in one of the Ivoirien banks, and the announcement of the privatization of a public bank. The team congratulates the authorities for taking strong measures to shore up the financial situation of the electricity sector and welcomes the authorities’ intentions to complete ongoing audits of companies in the oil sector whose financial position has deteriorated because of the fall in world oil prices and the appreciation of US dollar.” “Macroeconomic prospects for 2015 and the medium term are positive. The estimates of the pace of real GDP growth were raised to reach 8.4 percent both in 2015 and 2016 with inflation remaining moderate. The overall fiscal outcome is projected to improve to 3.5 percent of GDP in 2016 (from 3.7 percent in 2015). Achieving this strong performance will depend in part on Côte d’Ivoire’s external environment remaining favorable and sustained growth of private sector investment, including through major public private partnership projects. It will also depend on prudent management of public finances and debt and careful monitoring of fiscal risks.” “The team welcomes the forthcoming finalization of the national development plan (2016—2020). This plan will set out the government strategy to transform Côte d’Ivoire into an emerging economy by 2020.” “Over the medium term, the team encourages the authorities to further reduce the fiscal deficit to better protect public finances from potential fiscal risks. It also encourages the authorities to further deepen progress in improving the business climate and accelerate implementation of the financial sector reform strategy, including taking urgent actions to restructure public banks. Finally, the team calls for the completion of the ongoing audits on extra-budgetary spending prior to 2011 and on the public procurement contracts.” ‘The team urges the authorities to implement their plans to strengthen economic statistics. It also welcomes the government’s intentions to strengthen procedures for the budgeting, execution, and control of public expenditure by reducing the use of unorthodox spending procedures.” “The IMF team thanks the authorities for their hospitality and for the constructive discussions.” The mission met with H.E. Mr. Alassane Ouattara, President of the Republic of Côte d’Ivoire; H.E. Mr. Daniel Kablan Duncan, Prime Minister and Minister of Economy, Finance and Budget; Ms. Niale Kaba, Minister at the Prime Minister’s Office in charge of Economy and Finance; Mr. Abdourahmane Cisse, Minister at the Prime Minister’s Office in charge of the Budget; Mr. Adama Toungara, Minister of Petroleum and Energy; Mr. Chalouho Coulibaly, National Director of the Banque des Etats d’Afrique de l’Ouest (BCEAO); and other senior government officials as well as representatives of the business and donor communities.