Wednesday, November 27, 2013

IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde to Visit Cambodia

By Colin Meyn, The Cambodia Daily
November 27, 2013

International Monetary Fund (IMF) managing director Christine Lagarde will visit Cambodia next week as part of an Asia tour that will also include stops in South Korea and Burma, according to an IMF spokesman.

Ms. Lagarde will meet with Cambodian government officials, university students, investors and analysts on Monday and Tuesday next week, Gerry Rice, IMF communications department director, said during a press conference last week in Washington.

“Madame Lagarde…is scheduled to meet with Deputy Prime Minister Keat Chhon and senior government officials to discuss recent economic developments in the region,” Mr. Rice said Thursday, according to a transcript posted to the IMF’s website.

“She will also speak to students of the Ecole Royale d’Administration and exchange views with women business leaders and policymakers as well as members of Cambodian think tanks and the private sector,” Mr. Rice continued.

Nguon Sokha, secretary of state at the Ministry of Finance, said she had received an invitation to meet with Ms. Lagarde but declined to comment further on the IMF director’s visit.

In South Korea, Ms. Lagarde plans to meet with President Park Geun-hye. In Burma she is scheduled to meet with opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi. Ms. Lagarde will also meet the finance ministers of the two countries.

After the IMF’s annual mission to Cambodia earlier this month, Meral Karasulu, Asia and Pacific deputy division chief at the fund, predicted 7.25 percent growth next year on the back of strong garment exports and expansion of the tourism and construction sectors, but warned that the country’s economic outlook faced risks.

Expectations that the U.S. Central Bank will begin to reduce economic stimulus measures “may have significant spillovers to the region, affecting Cambodia’s FDI [foreign direct investment], tourism, and bank flows from abroad,” Ms. Karasulu said in a statement released November 15, adding that slow growth in Europe may also impact Cambodia’s garment exports.

“On the positive side, improving power and rural infrastructure as well as more diversified FDI and a renewed reform momentum after the elections could provide a further boost to growth,” Ms. Karasulu said.

After its visit, the IMF also recommended that the government follow through with its “plans to reduce large wage gaps in civil service to increase quality and governance of public services.”

“Continued improvement in the business climate, governance, and human capital, including through education and training, would provide support to private sector development,” Ms. Karasulu concluded.

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