IMF official defends financial institution

 ST. JOHN’S, Antigua, Apr 10, CMC – A senior official of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has dismissed a suggestion by Antigua and Barbuda that the Washington-based financial institution has been pushing for the island to enter into a new agreement with it.

The IMF Chief of Mission responsible for Antigua and Barbuda, Dr. Arnold McIntyre, has nonetheless praised the Gaston Browne administration over its economic policies that has resulted in the island being among some Caribbean countries registering economic growth.

IMMMMFSpeaking on Observer Radio here Monday, McIntyre said that the last time the IMF had discussions with Prime Minister Browne on the issue was almost three years ago.

“The government has made it very clear that they feel they are in a position to pursue the strategy that they have spelt out which puts a lot of emphasis on increasing economic growth through the attraction of foreign direct investment, the establishment of the Citizenship by Investment Programme, the management of government expenditure…and elements of that we agree with…,” McIntyre said.

Last month, Prime Minister Gaston Browne pointed an accusing finger at the IMF saying that it has been pushing his administration into entering into an agreement with the Washington-based financial institution.

In 2013, the IMF said the island had successfully completed the US$121.9 million Stand-By Arrangement (SBA) despite “considerable challenges” and that the aims of the programme signed with the then Baldwin Spencer government were “largely achieved”.

Speaking on a radio station here, Prime Minister Browne said the overall fiscal health of the island remains vulnerable even though his near three-year-old government had done well economically.

He told radio listeners that 10 per cent of the country’s loan stock is diligent.

“We have a block of loans, called the Paris Club loans that are diligent up to today and in all fairness to the UPP (United Progressive Party) they inherited those loans from the former (Antigua and Barbuda) Labour Party administration.

“But the reality is the country’s economy is still very vulnerable, the country’s finances are still inadequate to meet its commitment,” he added.

He said that many people here “may not be aware…that the former administration had given the IMF that it would have gone back into another IMF programme, and you will recall when we had…the breakfast meeting with the IMF, I said to them under no circumstances that my government will go that route”.

On January 27, this year, the IMF executive board concluded the consideration of the Article IV consultation with Antigua and Barbuda.

“Under Article IV of its Articles of Agreement, the IMF has a mandate to exercise surveillance over the economic, financial and exchange rate policies of its members in order to ensure the effective operation of the international monetary system.”

The IMF said that its appraisal of such policies involves a comprehensive analysis of the general economic situation and policy strategy of each member country.

McIntyre told radio listeners that the IMF’s interaction with countries has changed over the years and it no longer tries to insist that countries experiencing economic problems come under an IMF programme.

He said the government’s initiatives have been fruitful with the local economy growing by at least 3.7 per cent last year.

“Antigua and Barbuda has been growing better than a few countries in the region,” he said, adding “we agree with them that is satisfactory. The government would like to achieve a five per cent growth, which is ambitious and laudable”.

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A Moment with the Registrar of Lands

by  STAFF WRITER
 ST. JOHN’S, Antigua, Apr 10, CMC – A senior official of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has dismissed a suggestion by Antigua and Barbuda that the Washington-based financial institution has been pushing for the island to enter into a new agreement with it.

The IMF Chief of Mission responsible for Antigua and Barbuda, Dr. Arnold McIntyre, has nonetheless praised the Gaston Browne administration over its economic policies that has resulted in the island being among some Caribbean countries registering economic growth.

IMMMMFSpeaking on Observer Radio here Monday, McIntyre said that the last time the IMF had discussions with Prime Minister Browne on the issue was almost three years ago.

“The government has made it very clear that they feel they are in a position to pursue the strategy that they have spelt out which puts a lot of emphasis on increasing economic growth through the attraction of foreign direct investment, the establishment of the Citizenship by Investment Programme, the management of government expenditure…and elements of that we agree with…,” McIntyre said.

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Last month, Prime Minister Gaston Browne pointed an accusing finger at the IMF saying that it has been pushing his administration into entering into an agreement with the Washington-based financial institution.

In 2013, the IMF said the island had successfully completed the US$121.9 million Stand-By Arrangement (SBA) despite “considerable challenges” and that the aims of the programme signed with the then Baldwin Spencer government were “largely achieved”.

Speaking on a radio station here, Prime Minister Browne said the overall fiscal health of the island remains vulnerable even though his near three-year-old government had done well economically.

He told radio listeners that 10 per cent of the country’s loan stock is diligent.

“We have a block of loans, called the Paris Club loans that are diligent up to today and in all fairness to the UPP (United Progressive Party) they inherited those loans from the former (Antigua and Barbuda) Labour Party administration.

“But the reality is the country’s economy is still very vulnerable, the country’s finances are still inadequate to meet its commitment,” he added.

He said that many people here “may not be aware…that the former administration had given the IMF that it would have gone back into another IMF programme, and you will recall when we had…the breakfast meeting with the IMF, I said to them under no circumstances that my government will go that route”.

On January 27, this year, the IMF executive board concluded the consideration of the Article IV consultation with Antigua and Barbuda.

“Under Article IV of its Articles of Agreement, the IMF has a mandate to exercise surveillance over the economic, financial and exchange rate policies of its members in order to ensure the effective operation of the international monetary system.”

The IMF said that its appraisal of such policies involves a comprehensive analysis of the general economic situation and policy strategy of each member country.

McIntyre told radio listeners that the IMF’s interaction with countries has changed over the years and it no longer tries to insist that countries experiencing economic problems come under an IMF programme.

He said the government’s initiatives have been fruitful with the local economy growing by at least 3.7 per cent last year.

“Antigua and Barbuda has been growing better than a few countries in the region,” he said, adding “we agree with them that is satisfactory. The government would like to achieve a five per cent growth, which is ambitious and laudable”.