IMF miffed over Mali president's $50 million plane

WASHINGTON (AFP) - The International Monetary Fund expressed worry Monday over the luxurious US$40 million (S$50 million) new airplane of Mali's president, despite his impoverished country's deep dependence on international aid.

"We are concerned about the quality of recent decisions such as the purchase of the presidential plane worth US$40 million and the issuance of a US$200-million state guarantee to allow a private company to buy supplies... for the army," an IMF spokesman told AFP.

The spokesman said the money for President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita's aircraft did not come from US$33 million in emergency funding the IMF deployed to the west African country last year.

The funds came from a private Malian bank, as a loan.

Nevertheless, the IMF spokesman said, the purchase and the guarantee illustrates "weaknesses in public financial management."

It will also delay the first review of a new loan program from the IMF, scheduled for June, which could ultimately further restrict government finances.

Under the loan program, awarded in December, "the authorities have committed to execute their budget in line with the priorities highlighted in their growth-enhancing and poverty-reducing strategies."

"Getting satisfactory information about these transactions and reassurance that the authorities still stand behind the fiscal stability and sound public financial management objectives of their arrangement with the IMF will take time," the spokesman said.