By the Caribbean Journal staff
Antigua is showing “notable progress” in many areas, according to the International Monetary Fund, which recently concluded a visit to the country.
The IMF undertook the fourth, fifth and sixth reviews of the programme under the Stand-By Arrangement approved by the fund’s executive board in 2010 during the visit, which lasted from March 27 to April 5.
The mission held meetings with Finance Minister Harold Lovell, Tourism Minister John Maginley, Eastern Caribbean Central Bank Governor Sir Dwight Venner and senior officials, among others.
“The mission reviewed performance and policy implementation under the programme and found notable progress in many areas,” said Geoffrey Bannister, who led the mission. “Fiscal performance in 2011 has been broadly envisaged under the programme despite global economic headwinds continuing to hamper economic activity.”
Revenue collection has been lower than programme projection, however, though Antigua’s authorities have “successfully restrained” primary expenditure in order to meet program targets, he said.
“At the same time, a successful restructuring of debts to both domestic and external creditors has managed to reduce interest payments,” Bannister said. “The country has continued to advance with structural reforms that aim at strengthening public administration to improve budget performance.”
He also said the mission had “useful” discussions with Antiguan authorities on microeconomic, structural and financial sector policies under the programme, and that the government remained “firmly committed” to the policies and objectives of their Fiscal Consolidation Programme.
Talks will continue when Antiguan authorities visit Washington, DC for the IMF and World Bank Group Spring Meetings during April 16 to 21.