Montreal, Quebec, April 19, 2011– Hilbroy Advisory Inc. (DeutcheBörse: 2H0) Hilbroy Advisory Reports: The International Monetary Fund (IMF) is cautioning African countries to watch their spending during a year packed with elections on the continent, where rising food and fuel prices pose a big threat to the poor.
This year is the busiest for the African political calendar since the end of the Cold War, with 17 presidential polls and parliamentary and local elections.
The hectic schedule is raising concerns that countries could throw fiscal caution aside to win votes and undermine years of economic progress, pumping up growth and possibly raising wages that would further fuel inflationary pressures.
“There are some hard decisions that governments will need to take this year and those are even harder in a political season, but we want to encourage countries to pursue reforms as much as they can,” IMF director for Africa Antoinette Sayeh said during meetings of global finance chiefs at the weekend.
In 2009, overspending by Ghana’s former government in the run-up to elections forced the West African state to turn to the IMF for a $1 billion (R6.8bn) loan. Ghana faces presidential primaries in July before a vote in December next year.
Pricier food is especially hard for Africa where many people spend most of their disposable income on staples and any shortage worsens hunger.
The World Bank says 44 million people have been pushed into extreme poverty worldwide since June last year when food prices started rising due to bad weather and resurgent economic growth.
“It’s important countries do as much as they can to protect the considerable gains they’ve made and to really Endeavour to rebuild some of the buffers and to resist some of the clear political pressures and the temptation to expand budgetary spending,” said Sayeh, a former Liberian finance minister.
The IMF expects growth in sub-Saharan Africa of about 5.5 percent this year, more than double the rate of advanced economies. It would also be higher than other developing regions such as the Middle East and North Africa, Latin America, and central and eastern Europe.
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