IMF review staff to recommend further funding

ST. JOHN’S, Antigua & Barbuda: An International Monetary Fund (IMF) mission to Antigua and Barbuda has announced the country should get another tranche of money after successfully passing its first review since the approval of a US$117.8 million Stand-By Agreement (SBA) in June.

“All end-June quantitative performance targets were met,” said Wendell Samuel, head of the IMF staff mission, which visited Antigua and Barbuda from September 1 to 9.

“Based on the performance of the economic program and planned actions going forward, the mission will recommend that the IMF Executive Board complete the First Review of the SBA, resulting in the disbursement of US$5.1 million.”

The Board is expected to discuss the matter toward the end of next month.

Antigua and Barbuda received the first tranche of money – US$24.5 million – in July but the government continued to struggle, unable to pay public sector workers on time. Finance and Economy Minister Harold Lovell said that the money was used to pay local creditors, some of whom government had owed for several years.

A comprehensive restructuring of the public debt with both those businesses, as well as external creditors, is a major pillar of the government’s Fiscal Consolidation Program, which forms the basis for the IMF agreement.

In its statement on its Antigua and Barbuda review, the staff mission noted that a weaker-than-expected macroeconomic environment, along with delayed implementation of programmed tax measures, had constrained revenue growth for the government. It said to offset that, the authorities succeeded in restraining expenditure growth.

The IMF team said, overall, the country’s structural reform agenda was progressing significantly. It said several key structural benchmarks have been achieved, including: the implementation of the regulations for the Finance Administration Act; the initiation of civil service reform through the World Bank supported public sector transformation program; and the amendment of legislation to help combat money laundering.

 

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