- A new revision of economic development in Burundi concludes that the war-ravaged country finally is on a good track to start tackling rampant poverty. Growth projections remain optimistic for 2009.
Antoinette Sayeh, Director of the African Department of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), visited Burundi this weekend, meeting with President Pierre Nkurunziza, several ministers and the Governor of the Bank of Burundi to gather information about the country's economic progress.
Ms Sayeh was presented more positive numbers than she had expected. The Director of the IMF's African Department said she was "impressed with the significant progress achieved in Burundi under the IMF-supported economic programme, including with respect to the completion point triggers under the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) Initiative."
She went even further, congratulating the Burundi authorities on "the headway achieved thus far." Burundi had come a long way from the war-ravaged economy the country faced only a few years ago. Ms Sayeh therefore urged the Burundian government to persevere with their economic and social reforms.
According to the latest figures by the IMF, based on data provided by Bujumbura officials, the country is experiencing significant economic growth. This year, the Fund foresees a GDP growth rate of 4.5 percent. In 2009, this is even expected to increase to a growth of 5.0 percent.
While these numbers contrast the negative growth and recession during the long civil war, a 5.0 percent growth rate nevertheless is too little to make a greater impact on the country's rampant poverty. Population is growing at a very fast rate, an estimated 3.5 percent annually, thus eating up much of the economic growth. It is however also expected that the population growth rate may fall as peace and security return to the country.
Ms Sayeh, while congratulating authorities for the economic turnaround, in her meetings emphasised the importance of "taking all necessary steps to deepen structural reforms and further strengthen good governance." These efforts would help the government to attract continued financial support from Burundi's development partners, she advised.
The IMF, in a statement released yesterday evening, reaffirmed its support for the government of Burundi's economic and social reform programme. The Fund holds that this programme is well designed "to promote economic growth, increase resources for social sectors and for poverty reduction, and make progress with regard to structural reform."
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