IMF ready to help Kenya more

The IMF managing director, Rodrigo de Rato, wants the Kenya government to speed up discus-sions on the programme before the team jets in. “We agreed that the ongoing dis-cussions toward the second review under Kenya’s Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility (PRGF) arrangement should be acceler-ated with a view to having an IMF mission visit Nairobi in late April,” said De Rato when he met Finance Min-ister Amos Kimunya in Washington on Tuesday. The IMF chief asked the gov-ernment to speed up and conclude discussions around the ongoing Sh23 billion The PRGF programme was approved in November 2004. He said after a successful conclusion, a team would jet in next month or early May to discuss a new pro-gramme for 2006/07. Kimunya, who is on his first overseas tour as Kenya’s finance minister, also visited Brussels where he met key European Union (EU) offi-cials. The EU has pledged over Sh10 billion towards budget support and sources say the minister is seek-ing confirmation that the funds would be released before he reads his first budget in June. Kimunya took over from David Mwiraria who resigned in a huff in February, after he was implicated in the Anglo Leasing scandal. During his US tour, Kimunya briefed the IMF board on eco-nomic progress made under the Kenya Economic Recovery Strategy and the drought that has threatened to derail the economic programme. De Rato pledged to help mobilise more funds to reduce the impact of the drought that has left more than 3,5 million people in need of emergency food relief. “We held productive discus-sions on food security, gover-nance, and on issues related to the completion of the second review under Kenya’s Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility arrangement with the Fund,” said De Rato in a statement. “The recent drought follows several seasons of poor rains and is Kenya’s worst since 2003. Against this background, I urge the interna-tional donor commu-nity to respond generously and proactively in addressing the food needs of Kenya’s people.” Despite the sporadic rains expe-rienced in most parts of the coun-try in the last two weeks, an esti-mated 3,5 million people are still in need of emergency assistance. The IMF boss said it is critical to respond in a timely manner to avoid the human tragedies and adverse economic consequences that have all too often been asso-ciated with droughts in the past. ‘ AFP. “The IMF is also playing its part to support, within its mandate, the affected people in Kenya,” he said. “I confirmed to Kimunya that additional drought-related public expenditure can, and indeed should, be accommodated under the fis-cal programme.” – The East African Standard.

April 2006
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