Despite the severe drought in the arid and semi-arid parts of the country, high food and oil prices, and rapidly deteriorating global conditions, our economy has shown resilience with continued strong growth. We project real GDP growth to remain around 5 percent in FY 2011/12, supported by robust public and private investment. We therefore remain positive on the growth outlook, but we believe that the downside risks have risen, and need to be addressed to preserve and sustain the ongoing expansion in economic activity. Coping with the impact of persistently high international prices, the drought in the Horn of Africa, and the security threats coming from the Somali border, poses formidable challenges to macroeconomic policies.
All quantitative performance criteria and indicative targets for June 2011 have been met. In particular, we have managed to improve our fiscal position, despite the necessary measures taken to protect the vulnerable from high food and fuel prices, and the expenses associated with the implementation of the new constitution. Structural reforms have also moved forward and we are set to meet the benchmark on the submission of the VAT law for the second program review.
However, since June the increased global market turbulence together with rising inflationary expectations has placed growing pressures on the shilling and on the demand for government securities. As a result, we have not been able to accumulate international reserves as programmed and the government has fully utilized its overdraft facility with the CBK. Therefore, the CBK’s net international reserves (NIRs) have fallen below the September indicative floor, and the CBK’s net domestic assets (NDAs) have risen above the September indicative ceiling.
Since the program first review, the country’s macroeconomic outlook has worsened with respect to inflation and the external position:
Inflation has intensified and reached levels that could threaten the economic expansion. First-round effects from the increased food and fuel prices have fed into core inflation because of strong domestic demand fueled by the rapid growth in credit to the private sector.
The country’s external position has deteriorated not only because of higher than originally expected international prices and drought-related import needs but also because of the strength of domestic demand.
The shilling’s exchange rate has depreciated substantially in response to a widening current account deficit. The shilling’s slide has added immediate pressures on domestic prices that, if not addressed, could feed back on the external position and the exchange rate raising the risk of destabilizing macroeconomic conditions. To address this risk and protect the ongoing economic expansion we intend to promptly adjust our macroeconomic policy stance by:
Further tightening monetary policy as needed to stem inflationary expectations; and Cutting back on non-priority government spending to contribute to lower domestic demand and mitigate the impact of monetary tightening on market interest rates.
We remain committed to a policy regime free from controls on prices, interest rates, and the exchange rate. We are convinced that price controls do not work, may be detrimental to economic activity, reduce access to essential goods, and hurt the poor most.
Letter of Intent, Memorandum of Economic and Financial Policies, and Updated Technical Memorandum of Understanding.
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