- The economy of Lesotho continues to perform well despite the stresses caused by a serious drought, according to the newest assessment by the IMF. The Basotho government had generally been able to stick to its economic reform plans and therefore was to receive a US$ 5 million disbursement.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) today stated it had completed a review of Lesotho's economic performance under the so-called Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility (PRGF) arrangement. As a result, Lesotho would be able to draw up to US$4.98 million) under the arrangement immediately.
IMF Deputy Managing Director Shigemitsu Sugisaki today said the Fund had found positive developments in Lesotho's economy. "The economy of Lesotho continues to perform well under the PRGF-supported program, despite the stresses caused by a serious drought," he said.
Economic growth last year was stronger than expected, and inflation had fallen back, the IMF noted. Competitiveness had been maintained, and exports, in particular textile exports, were strong. "The strong and quick response of the authorities, hand in hand with considerable assistance from bilateral and multilateral donors, helped avert development of a full-blown food crisis in Lesotho last year," said Mr Sugisaki.
- Lesotho's economic program has been generally on track, but fiscal slippages emerged in the first quarter of 2003, partly as a result of agricultural support spending related to the drought, commented the IMF director. "Corrective measures" were however taken "to bring the budget back to a sustainable basis."
Further, considerable progress had been made in the area of tax administration, the IMF held. Establishment of the Lesotho Revenue Authority and the upcoming introduction of a value-added tax were to "bolster the efficiency and transparency of revenue collections and help to address budget pressures." In the period ahead, administration of the Treasury was therefore to be strengthened.
- The progress made so far in finalizing the Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper provides a sound basis for support for Lesotho's poverty reduction and social development efforts by the international community," Mr Sugisaki concluded. The upcoming budget had "a strong focus on social and poverty reduction programmes."
Accordingly, the IMF had granted the authorities' request for a new disbursement related to domestic financing of the government. The authorities were "firmly committed to securing a sound medium-term fiscal position, through increased revenues and a disciplined and targeted approach to expenditures," according to Mr Sugisaki.
Lesotho's three-year Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility (PRGF) arrangement was approved on 9 March 2001 in an amount equivalent to US$ 34.87 million. So far, Lesotho has drawn US$ 19.93 million. PRGF loans carry an annual interest rate of 0.5 percent and are repayable over 10 years with a 5 ½-year grace period on principal payments.
afrol News - It is called "financial inclusion", and it is a key government policy in Rwanda. The goal is that, by 2020, 90 percent of the population is to have and actively use bank accounts. And in only four years, financial inclusion has doubled in Rwanda.
afrol News - The UN's humanitarian agencies now warn about a devastating famine in Sudan and especially in South Sudan, where the situation is said to be "imploding". Relief officials are appealing to donors to urgently fund life-saving activities in the two countries.
afrol News - Fear is spreading all over West Africa after the health ministry in Guinea confirmed the first Ebola outbreak in this part of Africa. According to official numbers, at least 86 are infected and 59 are dead as a result of this very contagious disease.
afrol News - It is already a crime being homosexual in Ethiopia, but parliament is now making sure the anti-gay laws will be applied in practical life. No pardoning of gays will be allowed in future, but activist fear this only is a signal of further repression being prepared.
afrol News / Africa Renewal - Ethiopia's ambitious plan to build a US$ 4.2 billion dam in the Benishangul-Gumuz region, 40 km from its border with Sudan, is expected to provide 6,000 megawatts of electricity, enough for its population plus some excess it can sell to neighbouring countries.