UPDATE 1-Afghanistan economy to grow 11 pct this year-IMF
By Anna Yukhananov WASHINGTON, Nov 12 (Reuters) - Afghanistan's economy is set to grow 11 percent this year, boosted by a larger than expected grain harvest, the International Monetary Fund said on Monday. The IMF also said inflation was lower than forecast, touching 5 percent year-on-year in September, after visiting the country for a second performance review of its new loan program. "The economic outlook is broadly positive," IMF team leader Paul Ross said after a two-week visit to the country. "Growth and inflation have been better than expected ... notwithstanding high international food prices." The IMF suspended the Afghan program in 2010 after reports of corruption, bad loans and mismanagement at Kabulbank, forcing the central bank to take over the major lender. A new loan program was renegotiated in November 2011 when the Fund re-engaged with the Afghan government. The IMF has demanded that some of the assets of Kabulbank be recovered from shareholders, which include Afghanistan's elite, such as sitting ministers and an ex-warlord. The IMF said the government still needs to do more to collect revenues and reform the financial sector, though it has made some progress. The next steps are to submit a new banking law to parliament, and to continue the recovery of Kabulbank's assets. Recovering these assets would help restore investor confidence and support more inclusive growth, Ross said. The IMF said it would continue to discuss the loan program with the government in coming weeks. It previously approved an $18.2 million disbursement to Afghanistan in June, after the first program review.
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