Ms. Christine Lagarde, Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), issued the following statement after a meeting with H.E. Nouri Al-Maliki, Prime Minister of Iraq in Washington on Tuesday:
It was a pleasure to meet Prime Minister Al-Maliki today. Over the past several years, Iraq and the International Monetary Fund have engaged in a very successful partnership, anchored by successive IMF-supported economic programs. This partnership has facilitated substantial debt relief and helped achieve macroeconomic stability, including a strong dinar, low inflation, and a resumption of economic growth, in a very challenging political and security environment.
Prudent fiscal policies are essential to maintaining macroeconomic stability and fostering inclusive growth. In this context, I am very encouraged by the government’s new budget proposal for 2012 that was recently submitted to the Iraqi Council of Representatives. The proposal aims to restrain the growth of current spending, thus freeing up resources for infrastructure investment and social support, while limiting the size of the budget deficit. The proposed budget would allow the current Stand-By Arrangement (SBA) to continue to provide a safety net to the budget in case oil revenues were to fall sharply.
Promoting policies that lead to more inclusive growth is central to our engagement with Iraq. We are working closely with the Iraqi government to rebuild its essential economic institutions to help improve economic management and public service delivery. The current SBA offers a framework for Iraq’s structural reform agenda, by promoting better public financial management, including the management of Iraq’s hydrocarbon resources, and developing a financial sector that can support private sector activity and job creation. We look forward to further progress in these areas.
We remain committed to helping Iraq in its efforts to foster sustained and inclusive economic growth, generate viable employment opportunities, and improve living standards for all Iraqis. An IMF staff mission is scheduled to meet the authorities in January to discuss progress under the program and next steps.