IMF Executive Board Completes Fourth Review Under the Extended Credit Facility Arrangement for Burundi and Approves US$7.7 Million Disbursement

BUJUMBURA, Burundi, March 1, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — The Executive Board of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has completed the fourth review of Burundi’s economic performance under the program supported by the Extended Credit Facility (ECF). The Executive Board’s decision, which was taken without a meeting,1will allow for the disbursement of an amount equivalent to SDR 5 million (about US$7.7 million), bringing disbursements under the arrangement to an amount equivalent to SDR 20 million (about US$30.9 million). Burundi’s three-year ECF arrangement was approved on January 27, 2012 (See Press Release No.12/35).

Burundi’s economic recovery continues to gain momentum in the aftermath of the food and fuel shocks. Growth improved at an estimated 4.5 percent in 2013 and is projected at 4.7 percent in 2014, underpinned by the agriculture and construction sectors as well as the implementation of major infrastructure projects, including fiber optics, hydropower, and roads. There are also signs of uptick in tourist arrivals. Headline inflation declined from its peak of 25 percent in March 2012 to about 9 percent at end-2013, in the context of stable monetary and exchange rate conditions, and notable improvements in commercial banks’ liquidity. International reserves fell to about 3.5 months of imports following a 38.2 percent cumulative deterioration in the terms of trade during 2012–13.

The implementation of swift corrective measures in July 2013 in response to revenue slippages was instrumental in putting the program back on track. Revenue collections, which also benefitted from the pickup in economic activity, increased by about 6 percent (year-on-year) at end-2013, outperforming program targets, and placing the 2014 budget on a sounder footing. Expenditures were broadly contained.

Program performance was satisfactory. All end-September 2013 performance criteria and indicative targets were observed, including the indicative target on pro-poor expenditure. Satisfactory progress was made in the implementation of structural reforms. The streamlining of customs procedures at three recently established border posts with Rwanda and Tanzania is expected to ease transportation bottlenecks and lower costs of doing business. Progress was made in enhancing treasury and financial safeguards.

The macroeconomic outlook remains difficult, and external vulnerabilities persist in the context of lower international coffee prices and the narrow export base. Economic activity is projected to improve further in 2014, while the inflation outlook, absent poor harvests, remains favorable, owing to lower projected international food and fuel prices. Policy reversals of recently adopted measures, expenditure pressures in the run-up to the 2015 elections, and slippages in the implementation of structural reforms could jeopardize the macroeconomic outlook.

1 The Executive Board takes decisions without a meeting when it is agreed by the Board that a proposal can be considered without convening formal decisions.

Source: APO

Notice — Continuation of the National Emergency with Respect to Zimbabwe

WASHINGTON, March 1, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — NOTICE

CONTINUATION OF THE NATIONAL EMERGENCY WITH RESPECT TO ZIMBABWE

On March 6, 2003, by Executive Order 13288, the President

declared a national emergency and blocked the property of certain persons, pursuant to the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (50 U.S.C. 1701-1706), to deal with the unusual and extraordinary threat to the foreign policy of the United States constituted by the actions and policies of certain members of the Government of Zimbabwe and other persons to undermine Zimbabwe’s democratic processes or institutions. These actions and policies had contributed to the deliberate breakdown in the rule of law in Zimbabwe, to politically motivated violence and intimidation in that country, and to political and economic instability in the southern African region.

On November 22, 2005, the President issued Executive Order 13391 to take additional steps with respect to the national emergency declared in Executive Order 13288 by ordering the blocking of the property of certain persons who undermine democratic processes or institutions in Zimbabwe.

On July 25, 2008, the President issued Executive Order 13469, which expanded the scope of the national emergency declared in Executive Order 13288 and authorized the blocking of the property of certain persons determined to have engaged in actions or policies to undermine democratic processes or institutions in Zimbabwe, to commit acts of violence and other human rights abuses against political opponents, and to engage in public corruption.

The actions and policies of these persons continue to pose an unusual and extraordinary threat to the foreign policy of the United States. For this reason, the national emergency declared on March 6, 2003, and the measures adopted on that date, on November 22, 2005, and on July 25, 2008, to deal with that emergency, must continue in effect beyond March 6, 2014. Therefore, in accordance with section 202(d) of the National Emergencies Act (50 U.S.C. 1622(d)), I am continuing for 1 year the national emergency declared in Executive Order 13288.

This notice shall be published in the Federal Register and transmitted to the Congress.

BARACK OBAMA

Source: APO

Categories: African Press Organization

European Union and World Food Program sign agreement to strengthen feeding and nutrition in Guinea-Bissau

BISSAU, Guinea Bissau, March 1, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — On 26 February 2014, in Bissau, Ambassador Joaquín González-Ducay, Head of the Delegation of the European Union to the Republic of Guinea-Bissau, and Mr. Ussama Osman, Country Director and Representative of the World Food Programme (WFP), signed a contribution agreement for the amount of 5 million Euro (about 3 billion and 280 million CFA francs) in the framework of the implementation of the programme “Integrated Actions in Nutrition and Agricultural Development” (UE-AINDA).

“The contribution of the European Union comes in timely, given that almost all Guinean families depend on the income of cashew nuts for their livelihood,” said WFP Representative, Ussama Osman. “Even in 2014 the campaign cashew might be endangered by internal and external factors, leading to decreased revenues, which will have an impact on the purchasing power of small producers.”

The contribution from the European Union will be used by WFP to provide food during three years to about 56,000 beneficiaries, mainly malnourished children, pregnant and nursing women, Tuberculosis patients and their families countrywide.

In addition to providing food to the poor and defenceless, the European Union will fund an effective monitoring system and an early warning mechanism for food crises. Activities will be conducted in partnership with Non-Governmental Organizations, Community-Based Organizations and partners of the Food Security and Nutrition Group (GSAN) of Guinea-Bissau.

In conclusion, Ambassador Gonzalez-Ducay highlighted that “the eradication of hunger is an essential element in the fight against poverty, which lies at the foundation of the strategy of the European Union for development.

The decision to establish the UE-AINDA programme, which will address both hunger and poverty, and to entrust the execution of a key component to WFP is another example of the continuing commitment of the European Union towards the people of Guinea-Bissau.”

Source: APO

Categories: African Press Organization

Africa: United Nations launches 2014 online courses on Finance, Trade, and Intellectual Property

GENEVA, Switzerland, March 1, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — The United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) (http://www.unitar.org) has just launched the 2014 edition of the online training courses in financial management, international trade and intellectual property. These courses are intended for trade and finance professionals and officials from developing countries including least developed countries and economies in transition. Since the introduction of online courses in 2003, over 10,000 officials mainly from developing countries benefited from our courses.

Logo UNITAR: http://www.photos.apo-opa.com/plog-content/images/apo/logos/unitar-1.png

Dowload the Calendar of Events (pdf): http://www.apo-mail.org/140301.pdf

UNITAR is dedicated to delivering innovative e-Learning courses by high-level experts in a flexible and interactive way. Our e-Learning courses allow you to interact with other participants, to exchange ideas, and to ask questions to the facilitators, who all come from different backgrounds, which contributes to the richness of our trainings. Each course is moderated by an international expert with an in-depth understanding of current challenges and issues. Their real-world experiences allow participants to gain relevant and practical insights.

A typical course’s length is around 6 weeks. Successful participants receive a certificate of completion from UNITAR.

Africa represents 30% of training beneficiaries

As the demand from Sub-Saharan African countries for online training steadily grows, the number of online courses has increased by 390% over the past 5 years, with more than 30% of beneficiaries coming from Africa, followed by Asia Pacific 24%, Latin America and the Caribbean 14%. Every year, over 25,000 participants benefit from UNITAR’s training and capacity development activities.

Highly in-demand courses

The current calendar of events includes some of the highly in-demand courses on Financial Negotiation, Risk Management, Financial Governance/Management, Trade and Intellectual Property, Arbitration and Alternative Dispute Resolution, as well as Debt Management and Poverty Reduction.

Upcoming courses are available online at http://www.unitar.org/pftad3.

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR).

Media contact:

Michael ADALLA

Tel: +41 22 917 8454

Email: michael.adalla@unitar.org

About UNITAR

The United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) (http://www.unitar.org) is the principal training arm of the United Nations system. The institute provides training and capacity development to assist mainly developing countries in meeting the challenges of the 21st century in the thematic areas of Peace, Security and Diplomacy; Environment and Climate Change; New Technology for Development and Humanitarian Assistance; and Governance.

Source: APO

Categories: African Press Organization

Nigeria: UN expert on minority issues urges unity in diversity in response to challenges

ABUJA, Nigeria, February 28, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Good and inclusive governance is essential to ensuring minority rights, equality and peaceful coexistence for all of Nigeria’s citizens, the United Nations Independent Expert on minority issues, Rita Izsák, said* today at the end of her first official visit to the country.

“I found evidence that in States where inclusive governance prevails and communities placed trust in their leadership, there are fewer communal fractures and concerns about minority rights,” Ms. Izsák noted. “However, the exclusion of some groups, partisan politics, corruption, and the reality or the perception of bias and favouritism along ethnic or religious lines, fuel distrust, suspicion and anger.

“Political parties must play their role in reaching across ethnic or religious divides,” she stressed, while urging the Nigerian Government “to strengthen measures to fully implement the constitutional guarantees of equality, unity and belonging, in order to protect minority rights.”

With over 250 ethnic groups and even more languages spoken in the country, the UN expert acknowledged the complex ethnic, religious and linguistic make-up of Nigeria and that, for the most part, minority and majority communities coexist in harmony. Nigeria this week celebrates its Centenary and its rich ethnic, religious and linguistic diversity. However the Expert highlighted concerns that threaten unity in several States and require attention.

“In States that I have visited, including Plateau State and Kaduna State, today there are new divisions where once was relatively peaceful coexistence,” she noted. “I have been saddened to learn that violent attacks perpetrated against both Christian and Muslim communities have heightened suspicions and in some locations created a climate of fear.

“I have been deeply moved by meeting victims of violence from different communities,” Ms. Izsák said. “Those who incite or perpetrate violence, including extremist elements, must be held to account for their crimes and must not be allowed to succeed in creating divisions between communities.”

The Independent Expert urged the authorities to enhance the capacity, training and resources of the security forces in regions where violence has broken out, but stressed that “sustainable solutions to communal violence require more than a heightened security response alone.”

“Some of the tensions and conflicts that have erupted in Nigeria’s northern and ‘Middle-Belt’ States have been framed as religious or ethnic conflicts. However, it is clear to me that, while they have evolved to have obvious religious and ethnic dimensions, this is far too simplistic an understanding and their root causes lie in other factors – competition for resources or unequal allocation of resources, land issues, population movement and migration, and even the gradual but important impact of climate change,” she stated.

The rights expert welcomed local and grassroots initiatives to build bridges of understanding and trust between communities, through inter-faith and inter-communal dialogue, shared activities and education.

“I have met traditional Chiefs, Christian and Muslim religious leaders who are working to bring a message of peace and tolerance to their communities affected by recent violence,” she said. “I was particularly impressed by creative women and youth initiatives that address underlying root causes of potential conflicts and help to prevent them.”

Ms. Izsák visited the Niger Delta where she met Ogoni and Ikwerre communities who highlighted their efforts to overcome what they describe as abandonment and marginalization and the devastating effects of frequent oil spills. She also sought information on Nigeria’s linguistic diversity and urged the Government to consider formal and informal measures to protect and promote Nigeria’s rich linguistic heritage.

The Independent Expert welcomed the forthcoming National Conference that will bring together a wide spectrum of Nigerian society to hold a dialogue on many constitutional, legal, social, political and economic issues. She urged full attention to minority issues within the scope of the Conference.

Ms. Izsák cautioned, however, that the Conference must be truly inclusive and have clear objectives and outcomes that result in a real process of political, social and economic reform, in order to fulfil its promise to the Nigerian people.

During her twelve-day visit to Nigeria, the expert consulted a wide range of stakeholders including senior Federal Government officials, as well as State officials, civil society groups and community and religious leaders. Following her visit the UN Expert will produce a report and recommendations that will be presented to the UN Human Rights Council.

(*) Check the full end-of-mission statement by the Independent Expert: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=14293&LangID=E

Source: APO

Categories: African Press Organization

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