afrol News, 28 September - The Mauritanian economy, hard hit by the global crisis last year, is recovering faster than expected. The IMF has published its third upward adjustment of Mauritania's 2010 GDP growth.
Last year, the Mauritanian economy shrank by 1.1 percent - or 0.9 percent if the oil sector is excluded. For this year, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) expected only a slow recovery late last year.
Already in April, however, the Fund was a bit more optimistic, foreseeing a 5.2 percent growth of Mauritania's non-oil GDP for 2010. Including the detracting oil sector, the national economy was expected to grow by 4.6 percent.
Today, after a ten-day visit in Nouakchott, an IMF mission led by Boileau Loko again found reason to rise expectations of Mauritania's economic performance, saying the country had managed to overcome the crisis.
"The data available point to a recovery in economic activity," concluded Mr Loko. "Real non-oil GDP growth is expected to be around 5.5 percent in 2010, driven essentially by agriculture, the extractive industries - iron, copper, and gold - and the building and public works sector."
According to Mr Loko, Mauritanian authorities are working to implement an IMF economic and financial reform programme designed to overcome the crisis in the 2010-12 period. The main objective of the programme is "achieving real non-oil GDP growth of 5.5 percent" each year during that period.
The latest long-term projections by the Fund, generated in April, indicate that these goals are within reach. Projected non-oil GDP growth from 2011 to 2014 is set between 5.3 and 5.8 percent annually.
Mauritania's declining oil production has a negative impact on GDP
Mauritania's troubled oil production, which rapidly peaked in 2006 and since then has failed to see projects reaching their full potentials, is continuing to decline and thus negatively affecting total GDP growth.
Oil production last year was estimated at around 10,700 barrels per day last year, down from 75,000 in the peak year, 2006. Production is projected at only 7,500 barrels this year. The Fund, leaning on Mauritanian government data, expects this low level to be maintained for at least three years, before a new growth may again be possible.
"This drastic shift in production has led to a significant revision in the macroeconomic outlook of the country, the downsizing of the public investment program, and the need for more external aid which was curtailed at the onset of the oil economy," IMF analysts commented on Mauritania's declining oil production earlier this year.
Meanwhile, efforts to reduce poverty in Mauritania are believed to have been affected negatively by the 2009 crisis. Poverty incidence had declined from 51 percent in 2000 to about 42 percent in 2008, according to the IMF. No newer numbers exists, but the crisis in combination with a current drought may have increased the poverty incidence rate since 2008.
Mauritanian authorities, despite a reduced revenue basis in 2009, however struggled to protect social spending over the budget, even finding IMF acceptance for a fiscal deficit.
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