Special Envoy for the Great Lakes Region of Africa Thomas Perriello will travel to Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC); and Paris, France December 3-9. In the DRC, he will engage with government, opposition, and civil society stakeholders to discuss efforts to reach a consensus agreement on holding elections. In France, the Special Envoy will participate in a meeting of the International Contact Group on the Great Lakes Region.
Distributed by APO on behalf of U.S. Department of State.
Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, said:
I congratulate Adama Barrow on his victory in the Gambian presidential election on 1 December and President Yahya Jammeh for his statesmanship in respecting the will of the Gambian people and conceding defeat.
I also want to praise the Gambian people for conducting the election in a calm and peaceful manner. This presents a new dawn for The Gambia and is a momentous day for democracy in Africa. It is essential that all parties work together and ensure an orderly and peaceful transition.
Britain has an enduring relationship with The Gambia and we stand ready to assist the work of the new President and his government.
Distributed by APO on behalf of United Kingdom Foreign and Commonwealth Office.
IMF Executive Board Completes First and Second Reviews of Guinea-Bissau’s Arrangement Under the Extended Credit Facility, and Approves US$6.9 Million Disbursement
The Executive Board of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) today completed the first and second reviews of Guinea-Bissau’s economic performance under the program supported by an Extended Credit Facility (ECF) arrangement. Completion of the reviews enables the disbursement of SDR 5.112 million (about US$6.9 million), bringing total disbursements under the arrangement to SDR 7.952 million (about US$10.8million). The Executive Board also approved the authorities’ request for re-phasing of the remaining reviews and associated disbursements under the arrangement.
Guinea-Bissau’s three-year arrangement for SDR 17.04 million (about US$23.1 million or 60 percent of quota at the time of approval of the arrangement) was approved on July 10, 2015 (see Press Release No. 15/331). The ECF-supported program aims to restore macroeconomic stability and efficiency in public service delivery to foster inclusive growth, while protecting poverty-reducing infrastructure and social spending.
Following the Executive Board discussion on Guinea-Bissau, Mr. David Lipton, First Deputy Managing Director and Acting Chair, issued the following statement:
“Performance under the Extended Credit Facility (ECF)-supported program has been broadly satisfactory highlighted by strong economic growth in spite of political uncertainties. However, continuing political tensions pose downside risks to the outlook. The authorities are requesting revisions to the timing of the structural reform agenda and a re-phasing of the remaining reviews and disbursements. They are also requesting modification of PCs for the third and subsequent reviews, in view of changes to the technical memorandum of understanding to clarify the assessment of these criteria.
“The authorities’ resolute stance in unwinding the bank bailouts is welcome. Following through all steps until the bailouts are irreversibly unwound will be important to safeguard public finance. To strengthen the banking sector, it will also be necessary to implement remedial actions as they are being elaborated by the regional banking supervision and to enforce existing prudential norms.
“In light of the tight fiscal situation and still limited external budget support, fiscal discipline and accelerated structural reforms to create fiscal space for priority spending remain the centerpieces of the ECF-supported program. The strengthening of public finance management through an increased role played by the treasury committee and improved tax administration are welcome and necessary to regain confidence of private investors and development partners. To reduce the heavy cost to the budget, plans to make the water and electricity company (EAGB) financially transparent ahead of more far-reaching reforms in the medium term are also welcome.
“Stepped up efforts are needed to reduce corruption, including by strengthening the legal framework to address money laundering and the financing of terrorism. The improvements in the compilation of statistics is welcomed but needs to be sustained through adequate resourcing.”
Distributed by APO on behalf of International Monetary Fund (IMF).
The Honourable Stéphane Dion, Minister of Foreign Affairs, and the Honourable Marie-Claude Bibeau, Minister of International Development and La Francophonie, today issued the following statement regarding The Gambia’s presidential election:
“Canada commends the Gambian people for peacefully exercising their democratic rights and congratulates Adama Barrow for his victory.
“Peace and lawful transitions of power are critical to democracies in Africa and around the world.
“This is an important milestone in The Gambia’s future, and Canada is encouraged by the fact all candidates have stated that they respect the will of the Gambian people and the result of the vote.
“As we move ahead, Canada encourages all Gambians to work together to build a better future for all.”
Distributed by APO on behalf of Department of Foreign Affairs Canada.
IMF Executive Board Completes Third Review under the PSI for Senegal and Concludes 2016 Article IV Consultation
- Program performance through September 2016 has been satisfactory
- Growth is expected to exceed 6 percent in 2016, while inflation remains low
- The financial sector should play a stronger role in supporting private-sector led growth
The Executive Board of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) completed the third review of Senegal’s economic performance under the program supported by the Policy Support Instrument (PSI)  approved on June 24, 2015 (see Press Release No. 15/297). The Board also concluded the 2016 Article IV Consultation  with Senegal. The Board’s decision was taken on a lapse of time basis. 
Senegal’s macroeconomic situation is stable. Growth is expected to exceed 6 percent in 2016, while inflation remains low. The fiscal deficit has been declining steadily from 5.5 percent of GDP in 2013 and is projected to reach 4.2 percent of GDP in 2016. The current account deficit has narrowed and is projected to reach 6.5 percent of GDP in 2016, driven by lower oil prices and improved export performance.
Program performance through September 2016 has been satisfactory. All end-June 2016 assessment criteria and indicative targets were met, except for the indicative target on tax revenue which was missed by a very narrow margin due to lower-than projected customs revenue. Of the five structural benchmarks (SBs) set for the period from June to October 2016, three were met. Of the other two SBs, one has been implemented and the other on the
reorganization of the tax office will be postponed as part of a wider reform.
In completing the third review of Senegal’s economic performance under the program supported by the PSI and concluding the 2016 Article IV consultation with Senegal, Executive Directors endorsed staff’s appraisal, as follows:
Implementation of the first set of PSE projects has helped move Senegal to a higher growth path, but sustaining this growth over the medium term requires steadfast implementation of reforms that would enable SMEs to thrive and attract FDI for globally competitive production. Continued efforts to increase the competitiveness of the private sector, including through making tax collection more transparent, lowering electricity costs and improving service distribution, and creating an environment where SMEs and FDI can contribute to broad-based growth, will allow the private sector to take the reins of growth over the medium term. Staff welcomes efforts to revamp the rules for the SEZ, drawing on the experience of China and Mauritius, and with input from organizations representing the investors from China, Europe and the US. It will be important, however, for the SEZ to move away from tax holidays and to have a transparent, rules‑based tax regime that is easy to comply with and has reasonable rates.
The authorities are committed to preserving macroeconomic stability. Efforts to increase revenue collection and rationalize public consumption have helped control budget deficits. However, these efforts need to be pursued with further vigilance, particularly with respect to the wage bill, a more transparent and fairer public sector wage remuneration system and a more equitable and efficient collection of taxes, where tax expenditures are significantly reduced. Reforms to ensure everyone pays their fair share of taxes in a transparent system, should make it possible to raise more revenue, whilst removing tax disincentives facing SMEs and FDI in globally competitive activities. The use of comfort letters to encourage bank financing of projects in advance of budget appropriations can undercut fiscal discipline and create contingent liabilities, and should be kept to the absolute minimum.
The financial sector should play a stronger role in supporting private-sector led growth. Financial indicators are improving, but from a low level. Regional supervision should be strengthened, including with a view to further reducing non-performing loans. Domestic reforms are needed to improve incentives for extending credit.
Senegal remains at low risk of debt distress, but debt levels are rising. Increased non-concessional borrowing, including on the regional market, has raised the debt service burden on the budget. Maintaining its low risk of debt distress is predicated on sustaining the high levels of growth envisaged under the PSE while adhering to the planned fiscal consolidation path, which will require rapid progress in fostering private investment. Better selection, evaluation and monitoring of investment projects to ensure a strong economic return and accessing concessional and semi‑concessional borrowing whenever possible as part of a comprehensive debt management strategy will contribute to keeping debt on a sustainable path while ensuring efficient implementation of the public investment program envisaged under the PSE. Moreover, there is an urgent need to strengthen Treasury operations that are under pressure from legacy arrears and financial difficulties of the postal system. Staff welcomes the authorities’ intention to take stock of the pressures on the Treasury by conducting an audit by end-March 2017 and formulate an action plan as soon as possible.
The outlook for the Senegalese economy is positive and risks are manageable, provided there is a concerted effort to continue improving economic governance. PSE success depends on rapidly implementing the critical mass of reforms which have been identified, including from the peer learning catalyzed by the Fund. An explicit review of the political economy of reforms should facilitate implementation of these reforms. However, risks, mainly domestic, relate to the entrenched rent seeking and patronage that may hinder opening up economic space and ensuring that everyone pays their fair share of taxes in a transparent system. Failure to overcome these lobbies for the status quo would, as has happened four times since 1990, result in the current growth momentum being lost. External risks include possible increases in the cost of public borrowing and slow growth in key partner countries. Security risks in the region could also adversely affect investment and, hence, growth and exports.
Distributed by APO on behalf of International Monetary Fund (IMF).
 The PSI is an instrument of the IMF designed for countries that may not need, or want, IMF financial assistance, but still seek IMF advice, monitoring and endorsement of their policies. The PSI helps countries design effective economic programs that, once approved by the IMF’s Executive Board, signal to donors, multilateral development banks, and markets the Fund’s endorsement of a member’s policies (see http://www.imf.org/external/np/exr/facts/psi.htm).
 Under Article IV of the IMF’s Articles of Agreement, the IMF holds bilateral discussions with members, usually every year. A staff team visits the country, collects economic and financial information, and discusses with officials the country’s economic developments and policies. On return to headquarters, the staff prepares a report, which forms the basis for discussion by the Executive Board.
 The Executive Board takes decisions under its lapse of time procedure when it is agreed by the Board that a proposal can be considered without convening formal discussions.
In response to the release of The Gambia’s December 1, 2016 election results, Freedom House issued the following statement:
“Freedom House congratulates the people of The Gambia on a largely peaceful election day,” said Vukasin Petrovic, director for Central, East and West Africa programs. “Freedom House encourages all parties to accept the will of the people and positively notes President Yahya Jammeh’s intention to concede. This move signals a hopeful path for The Gambia’s future democratic prospects.”
On December 1, 2016, The Gambia’s incumbent President Yahya Jammeh faced opposition candidate Adama Barrow in national elections. Despite a complete shutdown of the internet and international speculation that President Jammeh would not allow a challenge to his 22 years in power, the electoral commission announced an opposition victory.
Distributed by APO on behalf of Freedom House.