An International Monetary Fund (IMF) staff team led by Cheikh Anta Gueye visited Niamey from May 3 to 10, 2017, to assess economic developments during 2016 and in early 2017, and to discuss with the authorities corrective measures needed to achieve the end-June 2017 targets under the program supported by the Extended Credit Facility (ECF) arrangement. The program was approved by the IMF Board on January 23, 2017 (see press release no. 17/18).
At the end of the visit, Mr. Gueye issued the following statement:
"Niger's macroeconomic performance is overall satisfactory. Growth is estimated to have increased to 5 percent in 2016 from 4 percent in 2015, helped by a strong 2016/17 crop year, and a pick-up in oil production in late 2016. But the pace of economic activity is barely above population growth and continues to be adversely affected by security and humanitarian shocks, unfavorable commodity export prices for uranium and petroleum, and economic difficulties in neighboring countries. Annual average inflation remained contained at 0.2 percent at end-2016. Economic outlook over the medium term remains favorable but is subject to risks related to regional security conditions and commodity market prices.
"Budget execution in 2016 was impacted by lower-than-targeted revenue collection partly due to unfavorable developments in commodity sectors and continued economic problems in neighboring countries. At the same time, revenue measures contemplated by customs administration did not produce the expected results. At end-December 2016, government revenue was below target by 0.8 percent of GDP, but most fiscal targets other than for government revenue were met.
"Revenue shortfalls continued in the first quarter of 2017. Sustained expenditure controls through budgetary regulation helped to maintain the fiscal deficit and domestic financing under the ECF-supported program targets. Progress was also made in implementing structural reforms. The authorities are well advanced in setting up the Treasury Single Account and in updating the 2008 national gender policy, with a focus on women's empowerment and reduction in gender inequality.
"The authorities stressed their strong commitment to the program and their determination to take immediate corrective measures needed to achieve the end-June 2017 targets under the ECF-supported program. These include conducting tax inspections on income tax and VAT; improving collection of tax arrears; using actual transaction values for customs tax assessments; and preventing fraud on petroleum products commercialization and improving the management of tax exemptions. Over the medium term, the authorities are preparing a budget deficit reduction strategy to achieve the WAEMU convergence criteria and are developing a framework to improve VAT collection.
"The staff team met with President Issoufou Mahamadou and Prime Minister Brigi Rafini, Minister of Finance Massoudou Hassoumi, the Deputy Minister for Budget Ahmat Jidoud, and other government officials, as well as the National Director of the BCEAO. The team also met with representatives of the civil society, the private sector, and the donor community.
"The IMF team would like to thank the authorities for their hospitality and for the constructive and productive discussions."
 The Extended Credit Facility (ECF) is the IMF's main tool for medium-term financial support to low-income countries. Financing under the ECF carries a zero-interest rate, with a grace period of 5½ years, and a final maturity of 10 years.