November 8, 2005

Angola celebrates 30 years of independence / ambigous relationship with IMF

Angola marks the 30th anniversary of its independence and in the coming year elections will be held for the second time in the nation's history. President Josť Eduardo dos Santos in a speech stated that material and constitutional conditions to hold election were now being put in place. Angola could now "be proud" of its achievements towards democracy and freedom of expression, he added. Furthermore, dos Santos said that in the country each citizen can express his or her opinion and realize their wishes provided that they do not break the rights of other citizens. On the other hand, he said, he would continue to take care of the social and productive integration of all ex-soldiers and their respective families. Same attention would be paid to the displaced people and refugees who returned to the country and areas of origin. The president recognised the need to train more staff in the health sector for a better service and assistance to the citizens. He also made known that there was a programme to rehabilitate provincial hospitals and equip them with technical means, as well as build more health centres in the districts.

In the meantime it has been revealed that Angola was ready to enter into a programme with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), but it only wanted help restructuring its debt, not new loans, the finance minister Jose Pedro de Morais has announced. The years of talks between Angola and the fund had so far failed to yield a programme because organisations such as the IMF "don't have an accumulated knowledge of Angolan economics and we need to build that before discussing policies“, Morais emphasised.
To help fund its post-conflict reconstruction, Angola has relied on expensive oil-guaranteed loans, but the international community would prefer it to have an IMF programme in order to help it access credit on more favourable terms. De Morais argued Angola was not interested in getting cash from the fund as the amount it could access would be peanuts compared to massive "jumbo-loans" such as a US $2 billion credit line it signed with the Eximbank of China in March 2004. Angola - whose external debt is estimated at around $10 billion - simply wanted a programme that would help it tackle its debt arrears, he said. (afrol News / Angola Press Angency, Luanda)

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