|December 16, 2004
Goverment releases US $ 4m for food aid operations / Parliament approves state budget
World Food Programme (WFP) aid operations in Angola have been boosted by a US $4 million donation from the country's government. WFP spokesman in Luanda Manuel Cristovao has announced that the donation from the Angolan government had been confirmed and that the funding would go towards WFP's food aid programmes in the country. "At the start of our current programme for 2004/05 the Angolan government had committed itself to US $7 million in funding for our operations. So this donation is more than half of their total commitment and it is very important as it comes at a time when WFP is facing a shortfall in funding for our operations in Angola," Cristovao added.
Due to ongoing funding shortages, WFP was forced to halve cereal rations for its general food aid recipients in April this year. The agency's intention had been to try to provide returnees with food aid for two full cropping seasons, but the lack of funds forced it to scale back to one season. According to Cristovao, the Angolan government's donation could unlock more aid from the international community. "Initially there was a weak response from donors to our appeal, some donors felt the government was not doing much for its own people. Donors were waiting for a sign that the Angolan government was concerned about the situation in the country," he added. So far WFP has received US $90 million in response to its appeal. "We still need about $50 million for the current operation, which will last until the end of 2005," he noted.
In the meantime, the National Assembly has approved by relative majority the proposals of the State Budget for 2005 and the Government Programme for 2005/2006 period, despite the unfavourable vote by the opposition. The State Budget draft-bill received 101 votes in favour, 46 against and four abstentions, while the Government Programme got 100 votes in favour, 47 against and five abstentions. The 2005 State Budget comprises revenue estimated at over Kz 956 billion and expenses fixed at the equally amount for the same period, proposing in its general and specific objectives, a quick rehabilitation of the country's physical infrastructures, in order to enable as soon as possible the re-launching of the productive activity and job creation.
The Government Programme worth over Kz 364 billion enumerates a package of six objectives; among them are the consolidation of peace and national reconstruction, as well as the building of the basis for the constitution of an integrated and self-sustained national economy. Among its specific goals are highlighted the continuation for productive and social reintegration of the demobilised and war displaced people, the consolidation of the macro-economic stabilisation process, guaranteeing the monetary and exchange stability and the reduction of inflation.
(IRIN/Angola Press Agency, Luanda)