- Congo Brazzaville's development partners commended the government's efforts at a donors' meeting in Paris today. With the recent advances in peace and economic recovery, the impoverished nation may be at the threshold of securing new funds.
The government of Congo Brazzaville met with donor governments and multilateral agencies today, "to renew the dialogue on the basis of the country's progress in political reconciliation and economic reforms since the new government took office in August 2002," according to a World Bank release.
The informational Paris meeting hosted by the World Bank was also a chance to discuss a preliminary version of the so-called Interim Poverty Reduction Strategy (I-PRSP) for the Congo, a document that is needed to secure funding from the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
- We have been very encouraged by Congo's progress made towards peace and recovery and towards improving economic governance, said Emmanuel Mbi, World Bank Director for this region, who chaired the meeting. "But we must not forget that the remaining challenges are significant," he added.
The Congolese delegation, led by the Minister of Finance, Rigobert Roger Andely, presented what he called "substantial advancements", which his country had made in terms of "democratisation, transparency in oil revenue management, modernisation of public funds management, and implementation of structural reforms in the financial sector."
The present government came to power after highly disputed elections last year, at the result of a national reconciliation process. The main opposition however boycotted the poll, which thus easily was won by incumbent President Denis Sassou-Nguesso. Although the polls were not considered free and fair, the international community has accepted them as a progress towards democracy.
The Congolese government since then has managed to improve security and restart the country's economic activities. At the Paris meeting, the government also reminded its partners that over the last two years it had financed a rehabilitation program from its own resources.
- In the context of the 'New Hope', launched by the President, the government is determined to continue the efforts undertaken over the last year, and is counting on donor support in meeting its remaining challenges, said Mr Andely.
In response, the development partners congratulated the country's efforts to date, and encouraged the government "to pursue on the same path." Donors reiterated their intention to commit about US$ 221 million in new financing over the next 2 years. This was to be in addition to about US$ 216 million for operations already ongoing.
The Congolese government and donors also raised the difficult topic of external debt. The Congolese delegation repeated its commitment not to take on further debt against petrol revenues, and to reach a resolution on the question of arrears.
Donors agreed that they needed to ensure the country's quick access to debt relief through the Highly Indebted Poor Country (HIPC) Initiative, as foreseen for post-conflict countries, as soon as the country's performance would give it access to the IMF's Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility.
In the discussions surrounding the preliminary work on Congo's Interim Poverty Reduction Strategy, the international donors commended "the extent and quality of consultative participation," which had "permitted the views of all actors in Congo's development to be reflected in the document presented."
A follow-up meeting between the Congolese government and its development partners was planned to take place in the next six to eight months, according to the World Bank.
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