OREANDA-NEWS. Ms. Antoinette Sayeh, Director of the African Department of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), visited São Tomé and Príncipe during February 7–9, 2016. Ms. Sayeh met with Prime Minister Patrice Trovoada and several other senior government officials, members of the national parliament, donors and representatives of the private sector and civil society to discuss the opportunities and challenges facing São Tomé and Príncipe, and how to transform stronger economic growth into better living standards for its citizens. At the conclusion of the visit, Ms. Sayeh issued the following statement:

“This is my first visit to São Tomé and Príncipe in my capacity as Director of the IMF African Department and I am very happy for having had this opportunity. I met many talented and committed people in the government and civil society and this allowed me to have a much better understanding of the economic outlook and challenges of your beautiful country.

“São Tomé and Príncipe currently presents encouraging economic prospects. The IMF projects full-year GDP growth at 5 percent, thanks to higher public investments, a recovery in cocoa production and an increase in foreign investment in tourism. Inflation will remain at around 4 percent, its lowest level in the last two decades. Key reforms have been implemented recently. In particular, the National Assembly passed the new banking resolution law and the government has begun clearing domestic arrears to the utility company.

“Other major reforms must be pursued to strengthen the economy and consolidate growth at a higher level, such as improving tax collection and strengthening the financial system. Continuing with a prudent fiscal stance to ensure public debt remains manageable is also very important.

“I wish to thank Prime Minister Patrice Trovoada, President of the National Assembly José da Graça Diogo, Minister of Finance and Public Administration Americo d’Oliveira Ramos, Central Bank Governor Maria do Carmo Trovoada Silveira, as well as other government officials, for their gracious hospitality and the quality of our discussions.”

In July 2015, the IMF approved a new Extended Credit Facility program for São Tomé and Príncipe, amounting to US$6.2 million. The ECF arrangement underpins the government’s economic reform program that aims to strengthen public finances, reduce balance-of-payments vulnerabilities, and clear large domestic arrears. The program also lays the foundation for stronger, more inclusive growth, and plays a catalytic role for bilateral and multilateral assistance