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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
04ANKARA4528
2004-08-11 16:46:00
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Ankara
Cable title:  

IMF OFFICIAL ON GOT'S DECISION TO SEEK A NEW

Tags:   EFIN  ECON  PGOV  ECIN  TU 
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						C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 ANKARA 004528 

SIPDIS

TREASURY FOR INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS - MMILLS AND MSHWARZMAN
STATE FOR E, EUR/SE, AND EB/IFD
NSC FOR MBRYZA AND TMCKIBBEN

E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/11/2014
TAGS: EFIN ECON PGOV ECIN TU
SUBJECT: IMF OFFICIAL ON GOT'S DECISION TO SEEK A NEW
DISBURSING STANDBY

REF: ANKARA 4455

Classified By: ACTING ECONOMIC COUNSELOR ANDREW SNOW FOR REASONS 1.4 (B
) AND (D).



1. (C) Summary: Following IMF Mission Chief Moghadam,s
surprise visit to Ankara last week, and
public statements by PM Erdogan and Economy Minister Babacan
that the GOT had decided to seek a
follow-on disbursing Standby Arrangement(SBA), Econoffs met
with IMF Deputy Resident Representative
Christoph Klingen on 10 August. Klingen confirmed that the
GOT had informed the IMF that Turkey would
seek a follow-on disbursing SBA. The IMF was not informed
of the GOT decision, however, until the end
of the Moghadam visit, which centered on the GOT,s
internally-developed three-year program for economic
policy for 2005-2007. According to Klingen the GOT program
was much more of a financing framework with
macroeconomic targets than a policy program, as it gave a
detailed picture of financing gaps for the next three
years but was very limited in terms of specific policy reform
measures to be taken during the same period.
Klingen said the GOT, using reasonable assumptions, has
identified a cumulative three-year financing gap
of between $8 and $20 billion, for which it would seek IMF
financing, with the key variable in the size of
the gap being the primary surplus. Klingen emphasized that
these numbers are extremely sensitive and
close-hold. He said the IMF staff tried to dampen GOT
expectations, particularly since Fund staff is not
yet authorized to begin negotiations on a new program.
Klingen briefly touched on the issues of the current
account deficit and the 2005 budget as well, and predicted
2004 growth could be between 7 and 8 percent.
End Summary.

Surprise mission


--------------------------





2. (Sbu) Although portrayed as a last minute visit to Ankara
on the invitation of State Minister of Economy
Ali Babacan, Klingen said Moghadam,s mission had actually
been in the works for some time. The GOT
requested an August mission some time ago in hopes of being
able to react to a Fund proposal for a new
program. The Fund was not comfortable with this approach,
preferring that the Turks create ownership of
any new program by first developing it on their own and then
presenting it to the IMF. The Turks seem to
have agreed with the IMF approach, as the focus of the
mission was for the GOT to present its internally-
developed three-program (reftel) to the IMF, rather than
vice-versa.



3. (Sbu) Klingen explained that the announcement of the
mission was made only just before Moghadam,s
departure from Washington in order to prevent the board
discussion of the 8th review of the current
Stand-By arrangement from being more of a discussion on a
potential future program. The IMF preferred

instead that the board focus on the details of the 8th review.



4. (Sbu) The mission focused almost exclusively on looking at
the GOT three-year program. The subject of
a successor SBA was only broached in the waning hours and
only in so far as the Turks stated they wished
to seek one; &the details of a new SBA were not discussed8,
said Klingen. However, he then described that
because the GOT program was largely a demonstration of the
financing gaps that Turkey would face over the
next three years, the Fund had to be careful only to listen
and offer general comments rather begin a negotiation.
(Note: the Fund cannot formally begin negotiations with an
exceptional access country like Turkey until it
receives explicit permission from the board.) The IMF did
feel compelled, though, to try and lower expectations
about how flexible it could be in any negotiations,
particularly with regard to the amount of funding it could
offer
and flexibility in setting program targets, both structural
and quantitative.

Financing Gaps


--------------------------





5. (C) The GOT presented a financing framework that produced
a range of financing gaps based on differing
scenarios for the primary surplus. Klingen commented that it
seemed thorough, coherent and &quite neatly done.
Using central government primary surplus scenarios ranging
from 4%-5% of GNP (these figures correspond to
consolidated public sector primary surpluses of 5.5%-6.5% of
GNP), the framework produced financing gaps,
cumulative for the next three years ranging from $8 billion-
$20 billion. Note: Klingen repeatedly stressed how
sensitive these numbers are. He said that because of the
danger of leaks, that only a small group in Turkish Treasury
and only Minister Unakitan in the Ministry of Finance were
party to these numbers. In a subsequent briefing to
western diplomats, Klingen did not reveal these numbers. End
Note. These results assume the following set of
conditions:

Ex-ante domestic debt market rollover ratio of 92%-93%
World Bank high case lending scenario
No bilateral loan from the U.S.
$1 billion in combined privatization proceeds and SDIF assets
sales per year
$5 billion in Eurobond issuance per year
Real interest rate of 8%
GNP growth of 5%
2005 Exchange rate of 1.67 new TL/$ (TL 1,670,000/$)
Current account deficit of 3% of GNP
Moving $4 billion of Fund repayments from ,06-,07 (although
this makes no difference to the cumulative
three-year financing gap)



6. (C) Klingen said that for the IMF,s purposes, the upshot
of these results is that it will be very difficult for
Turkey to target anything but a 6.5% primary surplus for the
consolidated public sector (5% for the Central
Government). Speaking again about the Fund,s lack of
flexibility, Klingen remarked that he was not sure the
GOT understood that it is very difficult to ask the Fund to
fill a gap resulting from a lower primary surplus.
He predicted that board members would not be happy to
provide financing that allows for looser fiscal policy.

What the GOT 3-year program is not


--------------------------





7. (Sbu) Other than the financing framework, the three-year
program appeared to the Fund to be light on
specifics. Particularly on matters such as fiscal structural
reform, the banking sector and improving the
investment climate there was no description of the underlying
policies that would allow them to achieve
the quantitative targets they had laid out.

GOT Leadership Confirms its Decision


--------------------------



--------------------------





8. (Sbu) Over the past few days Prime Minister Erdogan and
Minister Babacan have made public statements
saying the GOT has decided to seek a follow-on disbursing
SBA. At a private meeting with an American
company which econoff attended, Babacan confirmed that the
GOT,s priority in seeking the new program
was the IMF seal of approval on their policies, though the
financing would also be useful. Turkish press reports
have suggested that Babacan had only convinced Erdogan to
overrule doubters in the Government by pointing
out the risk of higher oil prices to the already-expanding
current account deficit. In the meeting with econoffs,
Klingen opined that the GOT had also come to realize that,
rather than the EU anchor providing a potential
substitute for the IMF, an IMF-approved program would
strengthen the GOT,s EU accession efforts, by making
Turkey a more attractive candidate. A chorus of voices
(Central Bank, the leading business groups and the entire
financial community) had been calling on the GOT to seek a
SBA since late spring, and Klingen told econoffs
that GOT economic technocrats were convinced of the need for
a SBA for some time, but had yet to obtain the
Government,s decision.

Process for new SBA


--------------------------





9. (Sbu) Klingen explained that early next month the Fund
plans to present a &high access paper8 to the board
in accordance with its policy on exceptional access
countries. The paper will establish a ceiling for the size
of
any new program. Provided the board approves of the paper
and sanctions the beginning of negotiations, a
mission will come to Ankara during the second week of
September. According to Klingen the Turks hope that
the mission can agree on the terms of a new program before
the World Bank/IMF annual meetings in Washington
at the end of that month. In the meantime the GOT has &a
lot of homework to do8 as they fill in the empty spaces
in their three-year program. Klingen offered that it is not
likely that this timeline will be realized. At the western
diplomats, briefing, Klingen noted that, if agreement were
reached on a new program, the Fund would cancel
the last two reviews of the existing SBA and replace them
with the first reviews of the new program, with
virtually identical conditions. If the two sides take more
time to agree, the existing SBA would continue to be
in effect.


Current Account, 2005 budget, and Growth


--------------------------





10. (Sbu) In the context of the current program, Klingen
briefly recounted the dialogue that occurred on the issues
of the current account deficit and next year,s budget. On
the current account, he pointed out that deficit is already
approaching 4 percent of GNP with nearly half the year still
to go, albeit the half that includes most tourism receipts.
He described the potential fiscal measures that the IMF
proposed in the event the deficit continues to widen to the
point of necessary action: not spending revenue over
performance, passing through high international oil prices,
doing away with the current incentive to trade in old cars
when purchasing new ones, and resuming F/X purchases
on the part of the central bank. At a press conference later
the same day, Finance Minister Unakitan revived the earlier,
IMF-rejected idea of increasing banks, resource utilization
tax, as a means of slowing the import-attracting growth of
credit. Unakitan also warned banks against fast credit
growth and announced continued strong fiscal performance in
July. Klingen, however, noted that the fiscal
overperformance*while notable at the central government
level--was
not so impressive for the entire public sector, because of
loss-making parastatals. In the Fund team,s discussions
last week, Klingen said the two sides spoke about how to
arrive at a 5% (6.5%) primary surplus. Here Klingen
commented that it was not clear that the politicians
understood exactly what would be entailed in achieving the
targets announced in the recent budget call.



11. (Sbu) Both Babacan, in the private meeting, and Klingen
were very bullish about this year,s GNP growth number
coming in well above the 5 percent target. Babacan declined
to say a number but seemed not to be in disagreement
to a suggestion it would be as high as 7 percent. He said
they would not revise the target, however. Klingen, at the
diplomats, briefing said real GDP growth could well be
between 7 and 8 percent this year, and that assumes a
slowdown from the first half.
EDELMAN