Despite a more favorable external environment, marked by the rebound in global growth, fast-increasing oil prices, and unprecedented Fund financial support, CEMAC is ending 2021 in a fragile external position. Net external reserves fell throughout 2021 to reach their lowest level in decades, and gross reserves are just above three months of imports of goods and services. The launch of a second phase of the regional strategy at the August 2021 CEMAC Heads of States summit saw renewed commitments to accelerate structural, transparency, and governance reforms. The resumption of program engagements with the Fund, combined with high oil prices and significant fiscal adjustments in 2022, should allow for a turnaround, and the build-up in external reserves is expected to resume in 2022. Risks include possible adverse pandemic developments, oil price volatility, possible fiscal slippages, shortfall in external financing, and security issues.
International Monetary Fund. Strategy, Policy, & and Review Department
This paper evaluates the IMF’s policy on the use of quantitative limits on public debt in IMF-supported programs (the “debt limits policy”) and proposes a number of modifications. The review is taking place at a time when many countries are experiencing heightened debt vulnerabilities or actual debt distress, aggravated by the COVID-19 shock, and occurring against the backdrop of a changing credit landscape in which concessional finance is scarcer relative to countries’ investment needs.
Since the approval of the first Rapid Credit Facility (RCF-1) request on May 4, 2020 (IMF Country Report No 20/185), weaker external demand in major trading partners (China and Europe) and a more pronounced impact of containment measures to slow the rising number of COVID-19 cases, have further deteriorated growth prospects and worsened Cameroon’s external and fiscal positions. Given limited fiscal buffers and urgent balance of payments needs due to the pandemic, the authorities allowed the current ECF arrangement expire at end-September, reiterated their interest on a successor arrangement, and in the meantime requested financial assistance under the “exogenous shocks window” of the RCF equivalent to 40 percent of quota (SDR 110.4 million). This additional request will bring the total disbursement under the RCF to 100 percent of quota in 2020.
The regional strategy has helped stabilize the regional economic position thanks to large fiscal consolidation efforts, a tighter monetary policy, and external financial assistance. The external position improved, and external reserves picked up. However, the region remains dependent on oil revenues, with little progress in economic diversification, under-performing budget non-oil revenues and weaknesses in the financial sector. The policy assurances included in BEAC’s letter of December 2018 were implemented as planned and the CEMAC authorities reiterated their full commitment to the strategy and their readiness to implement additional corrective measures if needed. Progress was made towards new IMF-supported program in Congo and Equatorial Guinea.
In May 2007, the IMF and World Bank Boards discussed the paper "Strengthening Debt Management Practices: Lessons from Country Experiences and Issues Going Forward". In those discussions, the Boards of both institutions endorsed a public debt management (PDM) work program that was particularly focused on strengthening frameworks and capacity in low-income countries (LICs). This comprised three main elements: (i) develop a toolkit to help LICs formulate an effective Medium-Term Debt Management Strategy (MTDS) and apply it in 4–6 countries a year; (ii) undertake debt management performance assessments; and (iii) continue the provision of debt management and domestic market development technical assistance (TA) and advisory services to middle-income countries (MICs). This paper is a response to the Boards' request for an update on the development and implementation of that work program. Developing a Medium-Term Debt Management Strategy (MTDS)— Guidance Note for Country Authorities Debt Management Performance Assessment Tool (DEMPA) Developing a Medium Term Debt Management Strategy: User Guide and Analytical Tool — In March 2009, the Executive Boards of the World Bank and the IMF endorsed the Medium Term Debt Management Strategy (MTDS) Framework developed by IMF and World Bank staff to help countries elaborate effective debt management strategies. The MTDS framework and toolkit comprises two elements: An operational guidance note (GN) and a spreadsheet-based analytical tool (AT). The GN provides practical guidance on the process of developing an effective MTDS, describing each step involved, while the AT provides quantitative analysis to guide the MTDS decision-making process.
This paper describes the policy changes that the Fund has made since the October 2007 IMFC meeting and the ways in which we plan to refocus the Fund’s work to support our members more strongly. It also describes the steps that management, staff, and the Executive Board have agreed to put our own house in order—to reform our governance, contain our spending, and solve our income problem.
This report reviews the work of the Fund since the 2007 Spring Meetings and the priorities for the period ahead. Progress has been made in the past few months with respect to the framework for surveillance and its implementation, quota and voice, and the Fund’s income model. Other key aspects of the MTS have also advanced, including with regard to Bank-Fund collaboration and the Fund’s role in low-income countries. Future work will focus on completion of the quota and voice reform, reaching agreement on the Fund’s new income model, and delivering budgetary restraint, as well as addressing the evolving challenges facing the Fund and the world economy, notably the financial market turbulence and financial globalization. The paper reports on recent developments in the global economy (Section II) and progress in the following key areas: reshaping surveillance (Section III); emerging market economies and crisis prevention (Section IV); the role of the Fund in low-income countries (Section V); quota and voice issues (Section VI), building institutions and capacity (Section VII); and managing an effective institution (Section VIII).
This paper discusses key findings of the Second Review of the Three-Year Arrangement Under the Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility for Cameroon. Economic activity is slowing, reflecting a weak business environment, stronger competition from low-cost producers of manufactured products, and reforms to foster sustainable forestry production. Higher world oil prices are leading to inflation pressures while contributing to an improvement in the fiscal position and external current account balance. Budget execution and implementation of structural measures related to public financial management were also satisfactory.
This paper considers the extent of retail banking integration in the Communauté Economique et Monétaire d'Afrique Centrale (CEMAC) and the level of bank competition at the regional level. Using a mix of quantitative and qualitative indicators, the paper finds some evidence of price convergence in average interest rate spreads. However, this observed fact is not supported by an increase in cross-border flows in retail loans and deposits, and price convergence may merely reflect excess liquidity in the region. Other data also indicate that bank competition within the CEMAC as a region is limited, complementing the findings on integration. Addressing shortfalls in legal and regulatory frameworks, infrastructure, and markets would facilitate integration.