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6567: IMF says much to be done to improve Haiti outlook (fwd)

From: nozier <nozier@tradewind.net>

  IMF says much to be done to improve Haiti outlook
Updated 1:23 PM ET January 5, 2001

  WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The International Monetary Fund on Friday said
  economic outlook for Haiti has worsened in the past year, noting
growth has
  slowed, inflation risen, the budget deficit worsened and the currency
pressured by
  political uncertainties.  The Washington-based lender said it was
concerned about prospects for Haiti,   adding that there has been little
progress on structural reforms in crucial areas such   as justice and
security, and privatization of public enterprises.
  "Directors expressed concern about the effects of the prolonged
political impasse on
  external assistance, investment, and the implementation of structural
reforms," the
  IMF said in its annual review of the Haitian economy.   The fund urged
the government and all political parties to make, "strenuous efforts
toward a political settlement so that the momentum of economic
development can  be restored and living standards substantially
improved, with support from the international community."
  Last November, President-elect Jean-Bertrand Aristide won a landslide
election to
  lead the impoverished Caribbean nation for a second time. He ran
  unopposed in the election boycotted by Haiti's opposition parties, who
refused to
  take part because of alleged irregularities in May 2000 parliamentary
  The United States, Canada and the European Union refused to send
observers to
  the November election after Haiti declined to re-examine May election
  Aristide was previously elected president in 1990, but toppled in a
military coup
  seven months after taking office in 1991.   At the end of last
December, the White House said that newly-elected Aristide had  promised
to rectify problems associated with the May elections, revisit the
results of   the vote, create a credible electoral council and
strengthen democratic institutions   and human rights.  Aristide is
scheduled to take office on Feb. 7.   In its statement Friday, the IMF
welcomed authorities' intention to redouble efforts   to implement an
economic program during fiscal year 2000/01, which will be
  monitored by IMF staff. It said good performance under the program
would be one
  precondition for starting talks about a poverty-reduction program.
The fund said authorities should seek to contain spending by restricting
the use of   the ministerial discretionary accounts and containing wage
increases, moves which  would free up funds for spending on education,
health, justice and security.   The IMF said that if there were clear
signs that fiscal adjustment was taking place and inflation had been
restored to a declining path, there should be some room for a  reduction
in interest rates and in required bank reserve ratios.  In light of
uncertainties, the IMF emphasized the importance of maintaining a
floating   exchange rate regime.