- Congo Brazzaville is only noting the global crisis mildly. The country will have an economic growth of 7.6 percent in 2008, due to a successful effort to promote growth in the non-oil sector. In 2009, growth will be even higher.
This was revealed as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) yesterday presented its latest analysis of the Congolese economy's performance, where it also approved of a modest economic support programme and a disbursement of about US$ 1.79 million.
According to Murilo Portugal, the IMF's Acting Chairman, "strong growth in the non-oil sector" of the Congolese economy had continued and the balance of payments had strengthened considerably in 2008.
Congo has experienced strong economic growth in 2008, reflecting the resumption of oil production after an oil-platform accident, as well as solid non-oil activity, driven by the telecommunication, construction, and transport sectors.
According to the IMF, real GDP growth is projected to be about 7.6 percent in 2008. In 2007 real GDP contracted by 1.6 percent due to a sharp decrease in oil production.
But the Fund's analysis, based on statistics provided by the Brazzaville government, foresees even stronger growth in 2009 and 2010. Next year, real GDP growth was predicted as 12.7 percent. This growth was expected to be sustained in 2010, with a forecast of 12.3 percent.
Congo Brazzaville has traditionally been very dependent on its oil production for national revenues. But oil production has passed its peak, and oil prices have been swinging markedly during the last few years, making the oil sector a dangerous pillar in the Congolese economy. As a result, government has targeted an annual real GDP growth in the non-oil sector of about 8 percent.
This year, the non-oil sectors are expected to grow by only 7.0 percent. But already next year, the IMF expects government to reach its target, with non-oil growth rates of 8.5 percent. Growth in the oil sector was however foreseen to be much larger in both 2009 and 2010.
Mr Portugal praised the Brazzaville government for having implemented well the IMF-monitored economic reform programmes in the country. Authorities had also "continued to strengthen governance and transparency related to the use of public resources," he noted.
Government was also commended for its social policies. It was said to have taken "a number of measures to mitigate the impact of high food and fuel prices earlier this year, including some tariff and tax reductions, and additional pro-poor and capital spending." With lower oil prices, however, government was now urged to reduce fuel subsidies.
While the economic outlook for Congo Brazzaville was generally extraordinarily positive, the IMF also warned that the global crisis would have its impact on the country. "Congo faces a number of challenges to accelerate growth and alleviate poverty, including the need to improve international competitiveness, raise output growth through diversification, and consolidate the fiscal position," Mr Portugal told authorities.
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