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WEST AFRICAN MONETARY UNION TO CONSIDER IFC RECOMMENDATIONS FOR SETTING UP A REGIONAL FRAMEWORK FOR THE LEASING INDUSTRY


Asimina Caminis
(202) 473-9737


WASHINGTON, D.C., June 13 -- Government officials from the seven countries belonging to the West African Monetary Union (WAMU)--Benin, Burkina Faso, C┘te d'Ivoire, Mali, Niger, Senegal, and Togo--will attend a seminar in Lom╚, Togo, June 15-17, 1994, to consider recommendations made by the International Finance Corporation (IFC) for setting up a regional regulatory and fiscal framework for the leasing industry. A study recently completed by IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, identified regulatory impediments to the development of a leasing industry in the WAMU countries and set forth recommendations on establishing a unified regulatory and fiscal framework to foster regional integration. The seminar is being sponsored by the region's development bank, Banque Ouest Africaine de D╚veloppement. Participants are expected to include tax directors from the WAMU countries; officials from the region's central bank, Banque Centrale des Etats d'Afrique de l'Ouest; and executives from local leasing companies. It is
anticipated that after the seminar the findings of the IFC study will be presented to the Council of the Finance Ministers of the WAMU countries. The study was financed by a trust fund set up by the Canadian International Development Agency and carried out in conjunction with the regional central and development banks. According to Tei Mante, Director of IFC's Sub-Saharan Africa Department, leasing "plays a critical role" in financial sector development in countries with small economies or low per capita incomes. "It is essential to the development of small and medium-sized enterprises, which typically lease costly capital equipment," he said. IFC recently approved financing for the first leasing companies in Benin and Senegal. IFC is the largest multilateral source of financing for private sector projects in developing countries and also provides technical assistance and advice in areas critical to private sector growth, such as capital market development, privatization, and corporate restructuring. The WAMU

countries share a commmon currency, the CFA franc, which is pegged to the French franc. The CFA franc was devalued by 50 percent with respect to the French franc earlier this year. (30)