International Monetary Fund division chief Benedict Clements Pic Photo Courtesy
IMF Staff Concludes Visit to Kenya
End-of-Mission press releases include statements of IMF staff teams that convey preliminary findings after a visit to a country. The views expressed in this statement are those of the IMF staff and do not necessarily represent the views of the IMF’s Executive Board. Based on the preliminary findings of this mission, staff will prepare a report that, subject to management approval, will be presented to the IMF’s Executive Board for discussion and decision.
A staff team from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), led by Benedict Clements, visited Kenya from December 10-20, 2018, to hold discussions on a new IMF-supported program.
At the end of the visit, Mr. Clements made the following statement:
“Kenya’s economy has continued to perform well, with real GDP growth accelerating to 6 percent in the first half of 2018, from 4.9 percent in 2017. The acceleration of growth is being driven by a strong recovery in agriculture due to improved weather conditions, resilient performance of services sectors, and sustained confidence in the economy. Inflation remains within the authorities’ target range (5+/-2.5 percent), supported by lower food prices and an appropriate monetary policy. Headline inflation stood at 5.6 percent y/y as of November 2018.
“Despite difficult circumstances, a significant fiscal adjustment was achieved in the fiscal year ending in June 2018. The deficit declined to 7.5 percent of GDP from 8.9 percent of GDP the previous year. However, revenues were significantly lower than budgeted and 0.4 percentage points of GDP lower than the previous fiscal year. As a result, the fiscal consolidation was primarily achieved by reducing public investment. To arrest the decline in revenue, the authorities adopted a series of revenue-raising measures in September 2018. While these measures will go a long way to further reduce the fiscal deficit to a targeted 6 percent of GDP in the current fiscal year, some spending restraint may still be necessary.
“The external current account deficit narrowed to 5.3 percent of GDP in the year to September 2018 from 6.3 percent of GDP in 2017. This reflects improved agriculture exports, rising tourism receipts, strong diaspora remittances, and lower SGR-related capital goods imports. External buffers remain healthy with foreign exchange reserves at about US$8.0 billion as of end-November 2018.
“The banking sector remains stable and resilient, and it is well capitalized and liquid. At the same time, the banking system’s non-performing loans ratio remains high, although falling from a peak of 12.7 percent in August 2018 to 12.3 percent in October 2018. Growth in credit to the private sector remains subdued, with credit growth averaging 3.2 percent y/y since the interest rate controls were adopted in September 2016. Although credit growth improved slightly to 4.4 percent y/y in October 2018, much stronger growth will be necessary to sustain high economic growth.
“Discussions focused on (i) fiscal policies to achieve the fiscal deficit target of 6 percent of GDP in fiscal year 2018/19 and further fiscal consolidation in fiscal year 2019/20; (ii) policies to support higher credit growth to the private sector; and (iii) structural reforms aiming to ensure the sustainability of investment-driven, inclusive growth. The authorities reiterated their commitment to macroeconomic policies that would maintain public debt on a sustainable path, contain inflation within the target range, and preserve external stability.
“Significant progress was made during the visit, and discussions will continue in the coming period. The team thanks the authorities for their hospitality and constructive discussions.”
The team met with the Cabinet Secretary for the National Treasury, Mr. Henry Rotich; the Governor of the CBK, Dr. Patrick Njoroge; Mr. Joseph Kinyua, Chief of Staff and Head of the Public Service; the Principal Secretary for the National Treasury, Dr. Kamau Thugge; the Deputy Governor of the CBK, Ms. Sheila M’Mbijjewe, and senior government and CBK officials. Staff also had productive discussions with representatives of the private sector and development partners.