The International Montary Fund has conceded that loans it had made with tough conditions to poor countries in 1978 and 1979 fell short of the desired results "in a lot of cases," leaving "much scope" for improvement in the agency's lending program.
On the other hand, the IMF found that much of the performance shortfall was due to the adverse impact of the second "oil shock" that took place during this period. In any event, the IMF loans had helped the borrowing countries defuse "what were potentially dangerous situations," IMF Managing Director Jacques de Larosiere said.
This report--the first one on how IMF-supported programs actually have worked out--was made public in a speech on Thursday by de Larosiere to the French-American Chamber of Commerce in Minneapolis. A text was released here by the IMF.
De Larosiere and the IMF have been pressed by the United States to tighten the "conditionality," or severity, of the loans extended to member countries. At the last annual meeting here in Washington, the United States contended that the IMF must be tougher, and de Larosiere responded by saying that strict conditionality already was being applied.
The IMF survey covered all 23 countries that had made upper-credit-tranche borrowings in 1978 and 1979, for 3- to 5-year terms, and at interest rates of between 4 percent and 6 percent. The strict conditionality lies in rigid and specific performance targets the countries agree to meet. "We don't expect 100 percent success," said an IMF offcial, "but if they don't meet the targets, they don't get the rest of the money."
Among countries involved were Turkey, Portugal, Panama, the Philippines, Kenya, Zaire and Sierra Leone.
As announced by de Larosiere, the score card showed:
* The targets for reduced current-account (trade and services) deficits were fully achieved in half of the programs. There was improvement in two-thirds of the cases.
* Inflation targets also were met in about half of the programs.
* Production targets "in most cases moved along the lines envisaged."
Beyond these specific results, the fund said that there were collateral benefits in the way that the borrowing countries adjusted their financial policies. For example, credit expansion was slowed in almost two-thirds of the cases; on average, monetary growth slowed by more than 15 percent. And in more than one-third of the instances, the national budget expenditures were reduced by more than 2 percent of gross national product--and in a few cases by as much as 5 percent of GNP.
"External-debt policies were typically carried out in line with the program," de Larosiere said. But in many, "It was not possible to prevent the emergence of an external-debt crisis where this had already been in the making for some years."
He said that one way of getting better results is to press the borrowing countries to move toward getting their economies in shape before a crisis develops. Improvement in IMF monitoring and more extensive use of technical assistance in the field also have been suggested.
Recent agreements by international lending and financial institutions:
* An International Development Association credit of $27 million to Bangladesh for use in expansion of an agricultural extension and research project. The emphasis will be on irrigation farming. Production of rice and wheat is expected to increase by 4 percent as a result of the expansion, and about 2,330 extension staff positions will be created.
* A $21.5 million World Bank loan and a $16 million IDA credit to Kenya to improve its forestry resources. Over a period of four years, plantations will be established at a rate of 6,400 hectares per year. The species to be cultivated will be pine, cypress and eucalyptus, primarily for timber and pulp production. The government of Italy will also provide $9 million and the government of Switzerland will provide $7.6 million.