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.
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)