Pressures on Kyrgyz economy beginning to moderate — IMF

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BISHKEK (TCA) — In 2016 as a whole, economic growth in Kyrgyzstan is expected to reach 2.2 percent while inflation will remain below 3.5 percent, an IMF mission led by Edward Gemayel said in a statement at the conclusion of its visit to Kyrgyzstan.

The IMF mission visited Bishkek July 8–14 to take stock of the latest economic developments and prepare the ground for the third review mission under the Extended Credit Facility (ECF), tentatively scheduled for the second half of September.

“After a difficult start of the year, the pressures on the economy are beginning to moderate, helped by a stabilizing regional context. In the first half of 2016, overall and non-gold growth reached -2.3 percent and 1.2 percent, year-on-year, respectively. Inflation is subdued at 1.3 percent year-on-year, at the end of June, whereas the som has appreciated by 11.3 percent by early July,” the statement said.

“The government should make every effort to keep the fiscal deficit in 2016 within the budgeted 4.5 percent of GDP. Meeting this target will require significant efforts aimed at increasing revenues and controlling expenditures. In this context, the recent introduction of a new VAT exemption on imported grain is counterproductive and should be reversed.

“From 2017 onwards, the budget should continue the path of fiscal consolidation, thereby helping to maintain public debt at a sustainable level. Revenues should benefit from the full effect of measures implemented in 2016 to improve tax policies and administration, in addition to rationalizing non-priority expenditures. Refraining from spending pressures will be critical in the run up to next year’s presidential election.

“The National Bank of Kyrgyz Republic (NBKR) should continue to limit interventions only to smooth excessive volatility and allow the som to move in line with fundamentals. The recent appreciation of the exchange rate calls for a careful foreign exchange intervention policy that strikes a balance between financial sector stability and external competitiveness.

“High banking sector vulnerabilities call for the immediate passage of the Banking Law, given its importance to preserving financial sector stability. The Law is essential to reduce the duplication and contradictions prevalent under the existing regulatory framework and strengthen the independence, governance, and transparency of the central bank. Unfortunately, key provisions aimed at establishing a modern and efficient bank resolution framework and protecting depositors’ rights have been removed from the Law during the second reading. The NBKR should exert every effort to preserve the key features of the Law and bring it in line with international best practice.

“The recent completion of the audits of the Debt Resolution Agency (DEBRA) and the banks under its management, as well as the liquidation of the first two banks are important steps forward. Additional efforts are needed to complete the liquidation of all banks under DEBRA by the middle of next year,” the statement said.

Sergey Kwan

TCA