An International Monetary Fund (IMF) mission led by Geoffrey Bannister visited Antigua and Barbuda during March 27–April 5, to undertake the fourth, fifth, and sixth reviews of the program under the Stand-By Arrangement (SBA) approved by the Fund’s Executive Board on June 7, 2010 (see Press Release No. 10/232). The mission held meetings with Minister of Finance Hon. Harold Lovell, Minister of Tourism Hon. John Maginley, Governor of the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB) Sir Dwight Venner, senior officials of the Ministry of Finance and the ECCB, and representatives of the local business community. At the conclusion of the mission, Mr. Bannister issued the following statement today in St. Johns:
“The mission reviewed performance and policy implementation under the program and found notable progress in many areas. Fiscal performance in 2011 has been broadly as envisaged under the program despite global economic headwinds continuing to hamper economic activity. As a consequence, revenue collection has continued to be lower than program projections. The authorities have successfully restrained primary expenditure in order to meet the program targets and manage contingencies in the financial sector. At the same time, a successful restructuring of debts to both domestic and external creditors has managed to reduce interest payments. The country has continued to advance with structural reforms that aim at strengthening public administration to improve budget performance.
“The mission had useful discussions with the authorities on macroeconomic, structural and financial sector policies under the program going forward. The authorities remain firmly committed to the policies and objectives of their Fiscal Consolidation Program, and recognize the importance of strong macroeconomic, financial and structural policies in achieving the goals of their National Economic and Social Transformation plan.
“Discussions will continue when the authorities visit Washington, DC for the IMF and World Bank Group Spring Meetings during April 16–21. The mission would like to thank the authorities and technical staff for their excellent cooperation.”