“Uganda’s annual headline inflation has increased to 5.9 per cent in June from the 5.4 percent recorded during the ended year may 2016. Uganda National Bureau of Standard Principal Statiscian Vincent Nsubuga Musoke says the rates were driven by the annual core inflation which registered 6.9 per cent for the year ending June 2016. This is lower than the 7.0 per cent that was recorded during the ended May 2016” (NBS TV Uganda, 2016)
WASHINGTON D.C., United States of America, April 5, 2016 – An International Monetary Fund (IMF) team, led by Laure Redifer, visited Kigali from March 22–April 5, 2016 to carry out discussions with the Rwandan authorities on the fifth review of their economic and financial program supported by the IMF’s Policy Support Instrument (PSI), and to reach understandings on economic policies that could be supported under the IMF’s Stand-by Credit Facility (SCF).
Ms. Redifer issued the following statement at the end of the visit:
“The IMF team reached staff-level agreement with the authorities, subject to approval by IMF Management and the Executive Board, on policies that could support completion of the fifth review of Rwanda’s PSI-supported program, as well as a new agreement on an 18-month arrangement under the Fund’s SCF. The Executive Board meeting is tentatively scheduled for May 2016.
“Rwanda’s economic performance in 2015 remained robust, with GDP growth of 6.9 percent. Growth in 2015 was buoyed by strong construction and services activity, with agriculture and manufacturing also performing well. Consumer price inflation remained contained, averaging 2.5 percent for the year, though it increased in the second half of 2015 due to higher food prices and administrative price increases. In February 2016, prices were 4.4 percent higher than a year before.
“However, new challenges emerged over the course of 2015 as a result of global developments. Lower prices and demand for Rwanda’s minerals almost halved the country’s mineral exports, leading to a significant loss of export revenue. This was exacerbated by lower-than-projected inflows of private capital and remittances, which together led to downward pressure on the Rwandan franc and foreign exchange reserves.
“Despite these developments, macroeconomic policy performance through end-December 2015 remained in line with program objectives. Most quantitative targets were met, and were supported by structural reforms, notably changes to boost domestic revenue collection, reduce liquidity overhangs, strengthen financial market supervision and functioning, and improve domestic revenue collection. Planned measures to revise the law for property taxes and improve the timeliness of public reporting on budget execution are taking somewhat longer than originally anticipated.
“Over the medium term, growth prospects remain in line with Rwanda’s high potential, and the mission welcomes ongoing initiatives to promote export diversification and encourage local production of what Rwanda currently imports, in order to improve Rwanda’s resilience to external shocks. These policies will, however, take time. In the near term, more immediate measures are needed to deflate external pressures and stem the drop in foreign exchange reserves. The mission welcomes, therefore, the authorities’ commitment to implement more cautious monetary policy and postpone some non-priority public spending to help dampen still-strong demand for imports. Allowing the exchange rate to continue to adjust as necessary will be critical in this regard. The mission expects that successful implementation of these policies will maintain economic growth at around 6 percent, while keeping inflation below 5 percent.
“The mission commends the authorities for decisive economic policies aimed at safeguarding external sustainability and reinforcing Rwanda’s long-term development potential. The mission also welcomes the authorities’ ambitious program of supporting forward-looking policy reforms aimed at strengthening the efficiency of public spending; and improving tax compliance.
“The mission met with Minister of Finance and Economic Planning Honorable Ambassador Claver Gatete, Governor of the National Bank of Rwanda Honorable John Rwangombwa, Minister of Trade and Industry Honorable François Kanimba, and other senior government officials, private sector representatives, and development partners. The mission thanks the authorities and other interlocutors for the open, fruitful and collaborative discussions.”
 Rwanda’s PSI was approved by the IMF Executive Board on December 2, 2013 (see Press Release No.13/483). The PSI is an instrument of the IMF designed for countries that do not need balance of payments financial support. The PSI helps countries design effective economic programs that, once approved by the IMF’s Executive Board, signal to donors, multilateral development banks, and markets the Fund’s endorsement of a member’s policies. Details of Rwanda’s current PSI are available atimf.org/rwanda.
 The SCF supports low-income countries that have reached broadly sustainable macroeconomic positions, but may experience short-term financing needs, including those caused by shocks. The SCF supports countries’ economic programs aimed at restoring a sustainable macroeconomic position consistent with strong and durable growth and poverty reduction. (see imf.org/external/np/exr/facts/scf.htm).
On July 27, 2015, the Executive Board of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) concluded the Article IV consultation with Somalia:
Since 1991, Somalis have suffered greatly from civil war. The economy deteriorated as the physical infrastructure was destroyed. In addition to the loss of lives, the war worsened the population’s living conditions, now among the lowest in the world. Even though the political and security situations remain challenging, Somalia has made tremendous progress since resuming relations with the IMF on April 12, 2013. The IMF has been actively involved in providing technical assistance and policy advice in its key areas of expertise, which laid the groundwork for this Consultation. While Somalia has been welcomed back as an active member of the Fund, it remains ineligible for financial assistance pending the clearance of its longstanding arrears. Arrears clearance will be an important part of normalizing relations with the international community and establishing a roadmap to debt sustainability.
As a result of the civil war, all Somali state institutions are severely impaired. Improving governance in key state institutions is critical for progress on economic reconstruction and development. The federal government, working with the international community, has taken steps to improve governance based on the rule of law and the application of international good practices for fiscal and financial operations. IMF technical assistance is largely devoted to enhancing governance in the ministry of finance and the central bank. Rebuilding critical infrastructure and delivering basic social and economic services will be crucial for the new government to gain the trust of the Somali people, advance the process of national reconciliation, and to extend federal government authority over all parts of the country.
Economic activity is estimated to have expanded by 3.7 percent in 2014, driven by growth in agriculture, construction, and telecommunications. Consumer price inflation was 1.3 percent. For 2015, real growth is projected at 2.7 and inflation should remain subdued at about 4 percent. With modest progress on the security front and an absence of drought, medium-term annual growth should be about 5 percent. Nevertheless, growth will remain inadequate to redress poverty and gender disparities.
Budget preparation and implementation is fraught with difficulty due to deficiencies in revenue mobilization and expenditure pressures that exceed available resources. The budget consists largely of salary and security expenditures contained by strict cash rationing. Deficits have been financed mostly through arrears accumulation. Similarly, the 2015 budget was prepared on a zero cash balance basis with optimistic revenue forecasts and weak commitment control, leading the federal government to ration cash and incur arrears to the defense forces, civil servants, and suppliers. On July 19, an extraordinary session of the Cabinet, chaired by the President, approved and sent to Parliament a revised budget for 2015.
The formal financial sector consists of the central bank, six banks with provisional licenses, and nine licensed money transfer firms. The sector is small and nascent while there is reportedly a large informal sector. The central bank of Somalia (CBS) faces challenges in building financial sector supervision due to technical and human resource constraints. The economy is predominantly dollarized and cash is scarce, particularly in lower denominations. Somali banknotes are not readily available, creating problems for the poorest.
The 2014 current account deficit is estimated at US$644 million (11.3 percent of GDP). Trade consists mostly of exports of livestock to Gulf Cooperation Council countries and imports of foodstuffs from neighboring countries and the Indian subcontinent. The trade and income deficits were US$2,663 million and US$450 million, respectively, partially covered by remittances of US$1,333 million and other transfers of US$1,137 million. The deficit was financed by foreign direct investment of US$434 million, especially in telecommunications, electricity, and hotels, and donor capital transfers of US$150 million.
External debt was estimated at US$5.3 billion (93 percent of GDP) at end-2014, preponderantly arrears. Debt data covers most creditors, excludes commercial debt, and shows obligations to: (i) multilaterals (US$1.5 billion); (ii) Paris Club creditors (US$2.3 billion); and, (iii) Non-Paris Club creditors (US$1.5 billion). Based on a preliminary assessment, Somalia lacks the ability to service its debt in the medium term.
Executive Board Assessment2
Executive Directors welcomed Somalia’s reengagement with the Fund, setting the stage for its first Article IV consultation since 1989. Directors agreed with the thrust of the staff appraisal. They noted that, following the protracted civil war, the country is facing daunting challenges. The first priority is to continue building institutions and administrative capacity, while undertaking key structural reforms to spur inclusive growth and reduce poverty. Directors underscored the importance of continued assistance from the international community to support the authorities’ efforts. They welcomed the launch of the Trust Fund for Capacity Development, and highlighted the important role of Fund policy advice and technical assistance.
Directors stressed the need for decisive steps to build fiscal discipline, underpinned by realistic budgeting and effective implementation systems. They welcomed cabinet approval of a revised budget for 2015 that will avoid new arrears by raising revenues and rationalizing wages and services and other recurrent spending. Going forward, Directors stressed the importance of budgeting within a medium-term fiscal framework, based on sound fiscal principles and transparent reporting, and a public expenditure review to promote the allocation of resources towards investment in human capital and infrastructure.
Directors encouraged the adoption of sound mechanisms to ensure effective and transparent management of prospective natural resource wealth. They recommended building institutions consistent with international best practices to ensure that natural resource exploitation maximizes benefits for Somalis. They also stressed the need for clarity regarding the delineation of authority between the federal government and sub-national entities.
Directors supported ongoing efforts to strengthen the Central Bank of Somalia’s capacity and governance structure, with support from the Fund and development partners. They cautioned that currency reform should not be implemented until all prerequisites are in place, in order to safeguard policy credibility.
Directors stressed that elaboration of a financial sector roadmap will be a critical first step to build credibility in licensing and supervising money transfer firms, in order to help channel remittances through the international banking system. They also recommended bringing the AML/CFT framework in line with international standards. Other priorities include preparing and approving additional prudential regulations, and strengthening compliance.
Directors encouraged the authorities to improve statistical capacity, in order to enhance the scope, quality and timeliness of economic data compilation, with technical assistance from the Fund and development partners.
Directors noted Somalia’s longstanding arrears to the Fund and other creditors, and encouraged the authorities to continue to work towards a pathway for arrears clearance and eventual debt relief. They noted that, in due course, the establishment of a track record of cooperation with the Fund on policies and payments in the context of a well-designed staff-monitored program (SMP) would be a key step in the process of arrears clearance and normalization of relations with the international community as a whole. Directors stressed the need for sustained international support and cooperation, and welcomed the formation of the Technical Working Group on Somalia’s Debt.