IMF Mission and Senegal Reach Staff-Level Agreement on the Program under the Policy Support Instrument

DAKAR, Sénégal, May 8, 2015/African Press Organization (APO)/ — An International Monetary Fund (IMF) mission led by Ali Mansoor visited Senegal from April 24 to May 7, 2015 to conduct discussions with the Senegalese authorities on their economic program, which may be supported by a new three-year IMF arrangement under the Policy Support Instrument (PSI)1. Subject to IMF management approval, the staff-level agreement is expected to be submitted to the IMF Executive Board for its consideration in June 2015. Members of the mission met with H.E. President Macky Sall, Prime Minister Mohammed Dionne and senior government officials, including those in charge of the Plan Sénégal Emergent (PSE), as well as representatives of the banking and private sectors, civil society, and development partners. At the conclusion of the visit, Mr. Mansoor made the following statement:

“The mission is pleased that the Senegalese authorities share the consensus that achieving emerging country status in the economic and social areas will require maintaining a sound macroeconomic environment and accelerating reforms aimed at improving productivity and the business climate. In this context, the Senegalese authorities and the mission have reached a staff level agreement on a macroeconomic and structural program for the period 2015-17 which may be supported by a Policy Support Instrument (PSI).

“This program aims to support Senegal in implementing the Plan Sénégal Emergent (PSE) with the goal of increasing growth and further reducing poverty while preserving macroeconomic stability and debt sustainability. Efforts in this context will focus on increasing tax revenues by broadening the tax base, as well as on rationalizing current expenditures to create fiscal space for financing infrastructure and social expenditures. Particularly close attention will be paid to the quality of expenditure, including investment expenditure, and to strengthening public financing, transparency, and economic governance. Finally, the program will contribute to accelerating structural reforms to foster a more attractive business environment, thereby promoting development of the private sector.

“The program aims to achieve an economic growth rate of at least 5 percent in 2015 compared with 4.7 percent in 2014, while maintaining the inflation rate below 2 percent.

“Sustained efforts to scale back government spending and to improve mobilization of tax revenues will allow for an increase in investment and social expenditures and a concomitant decrease in the budget deficit to 4.7 percent.

“Medium-term targets include increasing the GDP growth rate to over 6 percent, containing inflation below 3 percent, and reducing the budget deficit to 3.6 percent by 2017, with the goal of reducing it to 3 percent by 2018. The current account deficit should continue to decrease from 9 percent of GDP in 2014 to 6.5 percent of GDP in 2017 as a result of export growth.

“Meeting these targets will require rigorous and robust efforts to implement the PSE initiatives and the government’s structural reforms.”

The IMF mission wishes to thank the Senegalese authorities for their gracious hospitality and cooperation.

1 The PSI is an instrument of the IMF designed for countries that do not need balance of payments financial support. 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).

Source:: IMF Mission and Senegal Reach Staff-Level Agreement on the Program under the Policy Support Instrument

Categories: African Press Organization

IMF Staff Completes Review Mission to Guinea

CONAKRY, Guinea, May 8, 2015/African Press Organization (APO)/ — An IMF mission led by Abdoul Aziz Wane visited Conakry during April 23-May 8, 2015, to conduct discussions on the sixth review of the authorities program supported by an arrangement under the Extended Credit Facility (ECF),i which was approved by the IMF Executive Board on February 24, 2012 for SDR 128.52 million (see Press Release No. 12/57). The mission met with finance minister Mohamed Diaré, central bank governor Lounceny Nabé, planning minister Sékou Traoré, deputy budget minister Ansoumane Condé, and other senior government officials, as well as the banking association. The discussions focused on recent economic developments, growth prospects, and policy implementation, as well as policies and structural reforms for 2015.

At the conclusion of the mission Mr. Wane issued the following statement:

“The Guinean authorities and IMF staff have made significant progress toward understandings on a set of policies that, subject to approval by IMF management and the Executive Board, could be supported by the seventh disbursement under the ECF arrangement of SDR 18.36 million (about US$26 million). The Executive Board meeting is expected to be held in late June 2015.

“In 2014, Guinea was hit by an outbreak of Ebola which claimed numerous lives and inflicted a heavy social and economic toll. As a result, economic growth slowed to 1.1 percent, despite agricultural production growing strongly. Macroeconomic stability was maintained thanks to sound policies helped by stepped up international support to fight the Ebola outbreak. Inflation declined to 8.5 percent in March 2015 and the Central Bank’s international reserves remained at safe levels. The Guinean franc depreciated slightly against the US dollar, but strengthened against the euro. All the performance criteria and indicative targets for end-2014 under the ECF arrangement were met. However several indicative for end-March 2015 were missed, reflecting increased pressure on the budget.

“The authorities continued to implement their structural reform agenda, but difficulties in securing technical assistance have slowed the pace of reforms. They remain committed to the ECF-supported reform agenda aimed at strengthening public financial management, improving the business environment, bolstering the productivity of the public sector, strengthening the electricity sector, and finalizing the transformation of the mining sector’s institutional and legal environment. The mission welcomed the adoption of the draft law on public enterprises that will help control budgetary risks.

“This year will be another difficult one for the Guinean economy, reflecting the Ebola outbreak which is still not fully under control, sharply lower commodity prices, and the political uncertainty ahead of the presidential elections. We expect growth to be nil on average in 2015. Little, if any, output expansion seems likely this year.

“The authorities aim to maintain inflation below 10 percent and reserves at around 3 months of imports. They also intend to maintain an ambitious public investment program to support growth and improve living conditions. However, the recent increase in public sector wages and the significant reduction in pump prices will complicate the achievement of these objectives. The mission encourages the authorities to implement the automatic fuel pricing mechanism and revenue-enhancing measures to contain the fiscal deficit as well as enhance the transparency of the public investment program. The IMF team signaled the importance of additional financial assistance from the international community to support the authorities’ adjustment efforts and essential priority expenditure.

“The IMF team thanks the authorities for their hospitality and for the constructive discussions. The mission would like to express its sympathy for the heavy toll in human life of the Ebola virus; the recent decline in new cases gives hope that the outbreak will be eradicated soon.”

i The ECF is the IMF’s main tool for medium-term financial support to low-income countries. Financing under the ECF currently carries a zero percent interest rate, with a grace period of 5½ years, and a maturity of 10 years.

Source:: IMF Staff Completes Review Mission to Guinea

Categories: African Press Organization

Global rate of blindness is declining: in 2014 LIGHT FOR THE WORLD helped more than one million blind and disabled people

VIENNA, Austria, May 8, 2015/African Press Organization (APO)/ — For many years, LIGHT FOR THE WORLD (http://www.light-for-the-world.org) has been contributing to the constant drop of the global blindness rate. When the organisation first started 25 years ago, 0.6 per cent of the world’s population were still blind, whereas today thanks to a global effort, only 0.47 %* are affected. LIGHT FOR THE WORLD not only combats avoidable blindness, but also supports people with various disabilities. In 2014 more than 59,000 children with disabilities accessed different kinds of rehabilitation and assistive devices, with 11,500 also receiving school education. This was only possible thanks to the support of donors, foundations and public institutions, among them Bausch + Lomb, CROMA Pharma, Else Kröner-Fresenius-Stiftung, Fondation L’OCCITANE and Sint Antonious Foundation. The total income rose from 21.1 to 22.5 million Euro (+ 6.6%).

Logo: http://www.photos.apo-opa.com/plog-content/images/apo/logos/l4tw.jpg

Photo 1: http://www.photos.apo-opa.com/index.php?level=picture&id=1951

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Progress in the elimination of Trachoma

Trachoma is one of seven neglected tropical diseases (NTD) that are on track to be eliminated by the year 2020. LIGHT FOR THE WORLD managed to complete the mapping of trachoma in suspected endemic regions in Ethiopia and Mozambique in 2014. After the completion of the global mapping project which is funded by the UK government, this highly painful and blinding disease will be tackled worldwide by applying a strategy called SAFE. It involves Surgeries, Antibiotics, Facial cleanliness, and Environmental change (access to clean water). Patients who already suffer from trachoma are treated with medication and eye-lid operations.

New eye clinic in Mozambique

In July 2014 the groundbreaking ceremony for a new eye clinic took place in Beira, Mozambique’s second biggest city. The clinic will serve as eye-care hub for two million people in the province of Sofala. Starting from next year, 1,200 eye surgeries will be carried out annually and, most notably, thirty eye-care professionals will be trained every three years.

*Source: www.iapb.org/resources/gbd-numbers-and-prevalence

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of Light for the World.

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Andrea Zefferer, PR Manager LIGHT FOR THE WORLD

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About LIGHT FOR THE WORLD

LIGHT FOR THE WORLD (http://www.light-for-the-world.org) is a European confederation of national development NGOs aiming at an inclusive society. We are committed to saving eyesight, improving the quality of life, and advocating for the rights of persons with disabilities in the underprivileged regions of our world. http://www.light-for-the-world.org/

Source:: Global rate of blindness is declining: in 2014 LIGHT FOR THE WORLD helped more than one million blind and disabled people

Categories: African Press Organization

Death of American Citizens in Ghana

ACCRA, Ghana, May 7, 2015/African Press Organization (APO)/ — The U.S. Embassy in Ghana reports with deepest sympathy that two U.S. citizens have been killed in the Eastern Region of Ghana. We express our deepest condolences to the family and friends of the victims. The U.S. Embassy in Ghana is in contact with family members and is providing appropriate consular assistance. Due to privacy considerations, we have no further comment at this time.

We have confidence in the rule of law in Ghana, and urge any residents with information regarding this incident to report it to the Ghana Police Service. We refer you to local authorities for details on the investigation.

Source:: Death of American Citizens in Ghana

Categories: African Press Organization

Nigeria: Aid reaches hundreds found in Sambisa Forest

GENEVA, Switzerland, May 7, 2015/African Press Organization (APO)/ — The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the Nigerian Red Cross have delivered aid to a group of 275 people, mainly women and children, who had been found in Sambisa Forest, in north-east Nigeria. The group was found during military operations in the region last week.

The group was taken to a camp in the town of Yola and yesterday received clothing, bed-sheets, jerricans and hygiene articles. The ICRC also provided medical supplies to the federal hospital in Yola to help treat the wounded and sick.

”The suffering endured during this conflict, especially by women and girls, is tragic. Communities have been torn apart. We hope this group of people can now return to their families and loved ones. They will need continued support into the future,” said Beat Armin Mosimann, an ICRC official in Yola. The ICRC will further coordinate its efforts with other humanitarian actors to respond to the needs of this group.

The ICRC and the Nigerian Red Cross are engaged in large-scale activities to help the population affected by the conflict in north-east Nigeria. Since December 2014, food has been distributed to more than 200,000 people, clean water has been provided and medical assistance given to the local population and surgical cares in north-eastern Nigeria.

Source:: Nigeria: Aid reaches hundreds found in Sambisa Forest

Categories: African Press Organization

Pope thanks Bishops of Mali for Safeguarding Interreligious Dialogue

VATICAN, Holy See, May 7, 2015/African Press Organization (APO)/ — The peaceful coexistence among believers of different religions, the safeguarding of interreligious dialogue, the common commitment of Christians and Muslims in defense of cultural heritage, promotion of women, and the consolidation of the family were some of the topics that Pope Francis addressed in the speech he delivered this morning to the bishops of the Episcopal Conference of Mali, at the end of their ad Limina visit. Following are extensive excerpts from the address.

I would like to direct your attention toward the person of Christ in the delicate situation that your country has faced in recent years, including security challenges. At times, this situation has undermined the coexistence between the various sectors of society as well as the harmony between men and women of different religions present in the land of Mali, which is rich with a glorious past, synonymous with admirable traditions among which are tolerance and cohesion. I thank your Episcopal Conference for knowing how to preserve the spirit of interreligious dialogue in this delicate context. The common commitment of Christians and Muslims to safeguard the Mali’s cultural treasures, especially the large libraries of Timbuktu, patrimony of humanity, is an eloquent example. When you return, I want you to express my nearness, not only to your faithful, but also to your fellow citizens of all social classes and religions, men and women of good will involved in the fight against intolerance and exclusion.

In this situation, the Christian communities and their pastors are called to give an even greater witness to their faith based on the unconditional acceptance of the Gospel values. You are already following this path in translating the Bible into local languages because, in order to live the Word of God and to witness to it faithfully, we must first know it, diligently study it, and assimilate it. In this sense, the efforts made in your dioceses to develop new Catechesis manuals are to be welcomed. Thanks to a solid formation, the lives of the faithful will be even more rooted in faith and strengthened to withstand all threats.

Despite the serious problems facing it, the Church in Mali shows a beautiful dynamic in its work of evangelization, preserving a profound respect of conscience. Christ’s followers grow in number and fervor. But the Christian witness of the family still needs greater coherence. In your cultural context, also marked by divorce and polygamy, Catholics are called upon to concretely proclaim, through their witness, to the Gospel, life, and the family. I also encourage you to continue your pastoral work, paying particular attention to the situation of women: promoting the role of women in society and fighting against abuse and violence toward women is also a way of proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ, who chose to be born of a woman, the Virgin Mary.

If in any particular church the synergy inspired by charity is needed to ensure its credibility, then your context of the charity and unity lived in the Church are among the most important signs of fruitful dialogue with other religions, an expression of authentic Christian witness… It is to be hoped that even nowadays these witnesses of members of other religions toward our Christian communities multiply.

Likewise, the Gospel lived in its authentic dimension of charity should inspire social ministry. The Church is present in Mali in the areas of education for peace and your Christian communities actively contribute to promoting genuine national reconciliation. In congratulating you for your pastoral sensitivity in the field of promoting the human person without consideration limited to ethnic or religious affiliation, I would like to pay tribute to the many Christians who spread the culture of solidarity and hospitality, especially in facing the violence of the last years.

Dear Brothers in the Episcopate, strengthened by the Lord’s promise to be with his family until the end of time, I am convinced that despite the difficulties on their path, the Church in Mali will continue to be a testament to hope and peace.

Source:: Pope thanks Bishops of Mali for Safeguarding Interreligious Dialogue

Categories: African Press Organization