Gabon’s economy picks up as reforms to diversify continue
Since 2003, Gabon’s economy has recorded positive growth, low inflation, and significantly stronger fiscal and external positions as a result of the government’s far-reaching program of economic and structural reforms, high oil prices, and external debt rescheduling, the IMF said in its annual economic review. The IMF Executive Board commended the authorities for the progress made but stressed that with prospects of declining production in the oil sector, high external debt, and widespread poverty, challenges remained. Looking ahead, Gabon will face the challenges of managing the transition from a highly oil-dependent economy to a more diversified one that encourages private sector initiative and helps to eradicate poverty.
In 2004, non-oil growth benefited from rising output in manganese mining and timber processing, while activity in construction, electricity, and cement production picked up later in the year. The fiscal stance in 2004 remained tight as the significant windfall in oil revenue was used primarily to reduce foreign and domestic debt and increase deposits in a savings fund for future generations. The Board welcomed this, saying that paying down government debt now will help reduce the future burden of debt service on the public finances and the vulnerability of the economy to oil price swings.
However, the Board noted several fiscal risks in 2005 and urged the authorities to continue their structural reforms of recent years aimed at improving the management of public resources and promoting private investment and economic diversification. Strengthening the institutional framework by improving financial management in the public sector and reinforcing transparency and governance more generally will be critical to raising economic growth and reducing poverty. These are the twin aims of the Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper currently under preparation.
|(percent of GDP)|
|External public debt||63.1||62.8||56.0||49.6||43.0|