ST JOHN’S, Antigua - Government is nearing a resolution to the year-long stalemate with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) over the ABI Bank bailout.
Minister of Finance and the Economy Harold Lovell said on Wednesday when he delivered the inaugural Quarterly Fiscal Report that negotiations have resumed with the organisation and that necessary benchmarks have been reached in attempts to come in line with government’s initial IMF agreement.
“There are two aspects to that; the first aspect has to do with the fiscal targets under our physical consolidation programme that is part of our NEST plan that formed part of our agreement with the IMF and the disbursements that would be required. I am happy to say that as far as those fiscal targets are concerned, we have met every single fiscal target that we were required to meet,” Lovell noted.
Negotiations resumed between IMF higher-ups and an Antiguan & Barbudan delegation, including the minister, at the IMF, World Bank Spring meeting in Washington last week.
The meetings were held in an effort to resolve IMF’s suspension of the country’s stand-by arrangement, due to government’s decision to bail out financially faltering ABI Bank with a $40 million influx of funds.
The minister was confident that once “some preliminary matters” were dealt with, government could meet with the IMF Board as soon as June 4 in hopes of resuming drawdown payments.
Antigua & Barbuda entered into a 36-month Stand-by Arrangement with the IMF in June 2010 for an amount equivalent to US $128 million.
(More in today’s Daily OBSERVER)