* Senegal made progress on governance - U.S. ambassador
* West African nation has earned market confidence
By Bate Felix
DAKAR, June 15 Senegal has made progress
fighting corruption and establishing good governance practices,
earning it the confidence of investors and ratings agencies, the
outgoing U.S. ambassador said on Wednesday.
Marcia Bernicat warned the West African nation last year
after a series of corruption scandals that U.S. aid, including
the $540 million Millennium Challenge Corporation grant,
depended on its anti-graft efforts. [ID:nLDE64Q2HI]
"I think we have seen enormous progress made and it has been
documented by the IMF that the government of Senegal has done
(well)," Bernicat told journalists in Dakar.
Senegal has enjoyed a better reputation for governance than
many of its regional peers, but was hit last year by graft
allegations after admitting it gave an outgoing IMF
representative a cash gift of about $172,000.
Bernicat said she was encouraged by growing public dialogue
over governance and added that citizens' demands for
accountability were being met and institutions were in place to
keep a check on government actions.
"I think that is the strongest proof that progress has been
made. I'm satisfied that the progress will continue," she said.
She added the decision by U.S. firms IBM (IBM.N), Ford
Motors (F.N) and Google (GOOG.O) to open offices in Senegal was
a sign of growing confidence and recognition of the country as a
West African regional hub.
Senegal's minister for the economy and finance, Abdoulaye
Diop, said the country will continue to improve efforts on good
governance of its public finances and macro-economic system,
which have earned it good ratings from agencies.
Standard & Poor's affirmed Senegal at B+/B, outlook still
negative, in April and assigned a B+ rating to its $500 million
long-term senior unsecured bond in May. Moody's meanwhile
assigned the country a first-time rating of B1 with outlook
stable in April. [ID:nWLA8781] [ID:nWLA9688] [ID:nWLA4852]
Diop said the ratings showed Senegal was trusted by
financial institutions and as proof, its $500 million bond
SN047485975=RRPS was oversubscribed.
"We issued a debt of $500 million because we needed just
that, but in fact we had demand which was above our
expectations. $2.4 billion was proposed but we took just $500
million so as to be prudent with our debt," Diop said.
(Editing by Richard Valdmanis and Jan Harvey)