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KINSHASA May 26 Democratic Republic of Congo on
Friday revised its forecast for 2017 gross domestic product
growth downward to 3.5 percent from 4.9 percent previously, a
government spokesman said.
Congo's oil and mining sectors account for over 95 percent
of export revenues. It is Africa's top copper producer and also
mines significant quantities of gold, cobalt, diamonds and tin,
but its economy has been hit by a decline in commodity prices.
The government outlined a 2017 budget of $7.9 billion, up
10.6 percent on 2016 despite warnings from economists that
spending cuts are one of the government's last remaining tools
to control depreciation of the franc and spiralling inflation.
The government said it expects the franc to stand at 1,689
to the dollar at year end compared to 1,430 currently. The franc
has lost half its value since last year, largely due to low oil
and mineral prices.
In March, the International Monetary Fund said the
government should prioritise reducing its budget deficit in
order to stabilise the exchange rate and reduce inflation.
Former Prime Minister Augustin Matata Ponyo tabled a roughly
$5 billion budget last October but he was replaced before
parliament examined it. Public expenditures this year have so
far been financed by stopgap funding measures.
($1 = 1,430 Congolese francs)
(Reporting by Aaron Ross; Writing by Matthew Mpoke Bigg;
Editing by Mark Heinrich)