Non-timely release of IMF raises concern: Barker

IMF Report

The non-timely release of the International Monetary Fund Article IV Report is almost unprecedented around the world and certainly in the Asia/Pacific to withhold from public viewing.

It also raises a lot of concern and suggests that the IMF has provided figures and commentary which express concern over the state of the economy and presumably over management aspects affecting the balance of payment says an economist.

Director of the Institute of National Affairs (INA) Paul Barker was responding to the explanation by Bank of PNG Governor Loi Bakani and the continued delay of the release of the report.


                                                                                                                                                                                           Picture from Business PNG- EMTV

This is despite the assurance by the Prime Minister Peter O’Neill last week at the PNG Media Council’s inaugural luncheon that the report would be released by relevant authorities.

“Last week the PM said he had no issues with the report and that he would ask the central bank to endorse its release.

The bank has now produced this unheralded condemnation of aspects of the Article IV Report and stated that it will consider authorising its release, but only basically after it (IMF) uses figures that concur with those of the Central Bank.

“It’s almost unprecedented around the world and certainly in the Asia/Pacific region to seek to withhold the IMF report from public viewing and therefore also the market.

“It would be better to have the report released and reduce negative speculation. “BPNG has highlighted the areas of its key concerns so has in effect revealed some of the content of the IMF report.

“It is odd that some of the issues apparently raised were also contained in the 2015 Report which was released,” Mr Barker said.

The economist says the issues that may have been raised thus resulting in the non-release, notably may be the use of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and debt figures, while also the management of the exchange rate and foreign exchange.

Nonetheless he said the private sector is well aware of the issues and particularly the impact. “They realise the kina value was raised by some 17 per cent in 2013 with a negative impact on agricultural producers and the tourism sector.

All busineses are aware also aware of the impact of the foreign exchange squeeze on their operations. “Imports were reduced dramatically by the restrain on import figures as the measure of months of foreign exchange reserve held,” he said.

The economists argues figures had been revised adding that if they had been then the bank and the National Statistics office may need to explain and defend the basis of the new data provided, not just to IMF but the wider community.

Treasury Secretary Dairi Vele said yesterday that he would be releasing a statement explaining the issues on the IMF  report.

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