June 23, 2008 - Guinea-Bissau needs more support in fight to make economic gains – UN report
UN News Centre - Guinea-Bissau's economic and financial situation remains dire, despite some signs of possible improvement, a new United Nations report says, calling for greater international support to help the West African country emerge from its predicament and fight drug trafficking and organized crime.
The Secretary-General's latest report on the UN Peacebuilding Support Office in Guinea-Bissau (UNOGBIS), released today, warns that "substantial support by the international community" will be necessary if the country is to advance, especially given the ongoing budget deficits and the lack of investment in public services and infrastructure.
Rising prices of fuel and basic foods mean Guinea-Bissau's overall fiscal situation is very fragile, the report states, noting that the Government has introduced several measures - such as tax exemptions on imports of fuel and rice, a staple food item for many people - to try to mitigate the problems.
Cashew nut exports are forecast to grow by nearly 10,000 tons to 106,000 tons this year, while construction activity and agricultural production are both expected to rise as well. The gross domestic product (GDP) is expected to rise by 3 per cent in 2008.
"I am encouraged by reports of improved prospects for economic recovery and by the determination of the Government of Guinea-Bissau to take strong measures aimed at improving fiscal discipline and economic stability in the country," Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon writes.
But he also states that "the economic and financial situation remains dire," adding that the Government's inability to pay salary arrears for public servants in the past few months could heighten existing political tensions.
Adequate funding has also not yet been found for legislative elections scheduled for November, with more than $5 million in extra money needed, according to the report.
Mr. Ban also urges the Government to take advantage of international mechanisms to fight drug trafficking and organized crime, and says the international community should also show much greater support in this field.