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International Monetary Fund. African Dept.
Cameroon, the largest economy in the Central African Economic and Monetary Union (CEMAC), continues to face the repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic. Since the onset of the pandemic, the IMF’s Executive Board has approved two disbursements under the Rapid Credit Facility (RCF) totaling SDR 276 million, about US$ 382 million or 100 percent of Cameroon’s quota. Cameroon’s last arrangement under the Extended Credit Facility (ECF) ended in September 2020, without completion of the sixth and final review. The authorities have requested new arrangements from the IMF to help maintain external sustainability, implement their ambitious reform agenda—laid out in the National Development Strategy for 2020-30 (SND30)—and catalyze financial support from other donors.
International Monetary Fund. African Dept.
Cameroon, the largest economy in the Central African Economic and Monetary Union (CEMAC), continues to face the repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic. In July 2021, the IMF’s Executive Board approved three-year arrangements under the Extended Credit Facility (ECF) and the Extended Fund Facility (EFF) for SDR 483 million (about US$ 689.5 million, or 175 percent of Cameroon’s quota) to support the country’s economic and financial reform program. This followed two disbursements in 2020 under the Rapid Credit Facility (RCF) totaling SDR 276 million, equivalent to about US$382 million or 100 percent of Cameroon’s quota.
International Monetary Fund. African Dept.
Despite a more favorable external environment, marked by the rebound in global growth, fast-increasing oil prices, and unprecedented Fund financial support, CEMAC is ending 2021 in a fragile external position. Net external reserves fell throughout 2021 to reach their lowest level in decades, and gross reserves are just above three months of imports of goods and services. The launch of a second phase of the regional strategy at the August 2021 CEMAC Heads of States summit saw renewed commitments to accelerate structural, transparency, and governance reforms. The resumption of program engagements with the Fund, combined with high oil prices and significant fiscal adjustments in 2022, should allow for a turnaround, and the build-up in external reserves is expected to resume in 2022. Risks include possible adverse pandemic developments, oil price volatility, possible fiscal slippages, shortfall in external financing, and security issues.
International Monetary Fund. African Dept.
Cameroon, the largest economy in the Central African Economic and Monetary Union (CEMAC), continues to face the repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic. Since the onset of the pandemic, the IMF’s Executive Board has approved two disbursements under the Rapid Credit Facility (RCF) totaling SDR 276 million, about US$ 382 million or 100 percent of Cameroon’s quota. Cameroon’s last arrangement under the Extended Credit Facility (ECF) ended in September 2020, without completion of the sixth and final review. The authorities have requested new arrangements from the IMF to help maintain external sustainability, implement their ambitious reform agenda—laid out in the National Development Strategy for 2020-30 (SND30)—and catalyze financial support from other donors.
International Monetary Fund. African Dept.
Context and risks. The pandemic may have a long-lasting impact on CEMAC’s growth potential, which is already curtailed by structural, governance, and transparency issues. The policy response from national and regional authorities in 2020 helped mitigate the economic fallout. CEMAC, however, experienced a severe recession in 2020, fiscal and external deficits increased, and public debt rose with some countries having debt sustainability issues. The region is facing an increasing dilemma between internal and external stability, as external reserves fell sharply between mid-2020 and March 2021. A moderate recovery in economic growth is expected from 2021. Supported by lower than previously projected total external financing of €4.8 billion over 2021–23, international reserves build-up would be slower than pre-pandemic. This outlook is highly uncertain and contingent on the evolution of the pandemic and the vaccination program. Other significant risks include delayed implementation of the ongoing or possible new Fund-supported programs, uncertainties in filling large external financing needs, oil prices, and a possible deterioration in the security situation.
International Monetary Fund. African Dept.
This paper focuses on Cameroon’s Requests for Disbursement Under the Rapid Credit Facility (RCF), Extension of the Extended Credit Facility (ECF) Arrangement, and Rephasing of Access. The outbreak of the coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic and the terms of trade shocks from the sharp fall in oil prices are having a significant impact on Cameroon’s economy, leading to a historic fall of real gross domestic product growth. The authorities are taking decisive actions to limit the spread of the virus and its economic and social impact. They have implemented strong crisis containment and mitigation measures and are scaling up spending to bolster their health response. Additional measures currently under consideration will provide support to vulnerable households and firms. IMF emergency financing under the RCF will support the government’s efforts to mitigate the impact of the twin shocks. Additional assistance from development partners will be critical to fill the remaining financing need. Strict budgetary controls and transparency will be needed to ensure that the assistance under the RCF meets its intended objectives.
International Monetary Fund. African Dept.
The economic shock associated with the COVID-19 pandemic is set to have long-lasting effects on the economic outlook for CEMAC. The pandemic itself seems to be now broadly under control in the region, and the policy response from national and regional authorities, supported by significant emergency financing by the Fund, helped mitigate the initial economic fallout. With lower medium-term oil prices, the outlook projects that CEMAC’s fiscal and external adjustments will be slower than previously envisaged, entailing large external financing needs (around €6.6 billion for 2021–23). Gross international reserves will now reach the equivalent of 5 months of imports by 2025 vs. 2022 pre-pandemic, while net foreign assets (NFA) will be below previous expectations. Public debt would remain at elevated levels, albeit on a declining trend after the increase in 2020. This outlook is highly uncertain and contingent on the evolution of the pandemic and its impact on oil prices. Other significant risks include: delayed implementation of the ongoing or a second phase of new Fund-supported programs, difficulties in filling large external financing needs, and a deterioration in the security situation.
International Monetary Fund. African Dept.
The economic shock associated with the COVID-19 pandemic is set to have long-lasting effects on the economic outlook for CEMAC. The pandemic itself seems to be now broadly under control in the region, and the policy response from national and regional authorities, supported by significant emergency financing by the Fund, helped mitigate the initial economic fallout. With lower medium-term oil prices, the outlook projects that CEMAC’s fiscal and external adjustments will be slower than previously envisaged, entailing large external financing needs (around €6.6 billion for 2021–23). Gross international reserves will now reach the equivalent of 5 months of imports by 2025 vs. 2022 pre-pandemic, while net foreign assets (NFA) will be below previous expectations. Public debt would remain at elevated levels, albeit on a declining trend after the increase in 2020. This outlook is highly uncertain and contingent on the evolution of the pandemic and its impact on oil prices. Other significant risks include: delayed implementation of the ongoing or a second phase of new Fund-supported programs, difficulties in filling large external financing needs, and a deterioration in the security situation.
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.