afrol News, 11 March - According to the recently presented year 2002 budget, the Ivorian government is to channel extra resources into education, health and agriculture this year. The Minister of Economy and Finance, Bohoun Bouabré, had prepared the budget, which foresaw a slow recovery from the two previous years of economic recession.
Although the economic development in 2001 had not been equally negative as in 2000 (two years of international isolation due to a military coup), there still were noted many negative numbers in the passed year. GDP had shrunk by 0.9 percent in 2001 against a decrease of 2.3 percent in 2000. Major export industries, such as cocoa, coffee and petroleum, had suffered two years of recession, leaving the country in a bad position. With the difficult return of democracy last year, international relations have however improved, providing hope for some economic growth in 2002.
Several donors returned to Côte d'Ivoire last year, and the World Bank re-established its cooperation with the country only last month, one major reason for the late presentation of the budget. Prime Minister Affi N’Guessan thus told Parliament the 2002 budget was closely attached to the three-year programme (2002-04), which was financed by the IMF, the World Bank, the European Union and other donors.
For this year, N'Guessan expected "a modest growth of 3 percent" of the national economy, given the international cooperation and the recovery of world markets after the 11 September terrorist attacks on the US. A "stronger economic recovery in 2002" would "not be easy," the Prime Minister held.
The expected growth was to be invested in the future, N'Guessan told Parliament. The government was to launch reforms in the agricultural sector - one of the main currency earners. Investments were needed in the production of cocoa, cotton and coffee, the Prime Minister said.
The head of President Laurent Gbagbo's socialist-oriented government said the main priorities within the year 2002 budget where within the social sectors. These sectors were also important for the return of economic growth, N'Guessan said. The 2002 priorities were defined as: Education and securing that school attendance was free; health and the preparation of a service of health insurances; rehabilitation of rural roads; universal access to drinking water; rural electrification; and decentralisation.
Especially the sectors of health, education and agriculture were to receive increased financing, N'Guessan assured. The cooperation with the IMF and other donors also meant there were some extra funds accessible for these poverty-related issues. The World Bank also announced in February its assistance programme would continue to focus on "much-needed credits for education, health, agriculture, finance and infrastructure, as well as policy lending."
Sources: Based on Ivorian govt., Word Bank and afrol archives