The Executive Board of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) completed the second review of Iraq’s economic performance under a program supported by a Stand-By Arrangement (SBA) on Friday. Completion of the second review makes an additional SDR 297.1 million (about US$471.1 million) available for disbursement, bringing the total resources currently purchased by Iraq under the SBA to SDR 1.069 billion (about US$1.7 billion).
The Executive Board also approved a waiver of applicability of the end-December 2010 performance criteria on the central government fiscal deficit and on the central government spending bill, for which data is not yet available. The Executive Board furthermore approved an extension of the SBA by five months to July 2012, and a rephasing of access under the SBA to match disbursements with Iraq’s balance of payments financing needs.
The SBA was approved on February 24, 2010 (see Press Release No. 10/60) for SDR 2.38 billion (about US$3.77 billion). The SBA supported program aims to ensure macroeconomic stability and provide a framework for advancing structural reforms in Iraq.
Following the Executive Board’s discussion on Iraq, Mr. Naoyuki Shinohara, Deputy Managing Director and Acting Chair, stated:
“Iraq has maintained macroeconomic stability under difficult external and internal circumstances, while making efforts to rebuild key economic institutions. Inflation has remained subdued, and the exchange rate has remained stable. The 2011 budget aims to accelerate investment in public services and infrastructure, and accommodates higher social safety net provisions to support those in need. Iraq’s rehabilitation needs remain large and the higher investment spending is essential to help create a vibrant private sector that provides employment opportunities for Iraq’s large labor force, thus helping to reduce poverty. At the same time, a strong emphasis on ensuring the quality of public spending will be important.
“Decisive efforts to rebuild key economic institutions and improve governance will be critical for private sector development. The formation of the new government and the expected increase in oil production in the coming years offer an opportunity to do so while maintaining macroeconomic stability. Further strengthening public financial management encompasses the introduction of an automated financial management and information system and improvements in cash management which would eventually culminate in the establishment of a single treasury account. Establishing a framework for oil revenues to succeed the Development Fund for Iraq should help ensure continued accountability and transparency. In the financial sector, moving ahead with the financial and operational restructuring of the two largest state-owned banks and enhancing the central bank’s supervision capacity will contribute to creating a financial sector that can provide essential services to the private sector.
“Iraq continues to make progress to conclude debt agreements and resolve outstanding claims under terms comparable to the 2004 Paris Club Agreement.”