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DRC's ballooning budget

Congo government proposes 42% budget increase in 2022

Yellow taxi van vehicles line the streets in the Victoire district of Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo, on 11 January, 2019. According to ISS research 73% of the DRC population, about 60 million people, remain poor, with GDP per capita only 40% of what it was at the time of the country's independence in 1960. (Photo: John Wessels/Bloomberg)

KINSHASA, Nov 15 (Reuters) - Democratic Republic of Congo's prime minister on Monday proposed government spending of 20.73 trillion Congolese francs ($9.94 billion dollars) in 2022, a 41.8% increase over this year's budget.

 

Prime Minister Sama Lukonde Kyenge told parliament the increase would be made possible by strong economic growth, improved revenue collection and higher donor funding.

Despite the continuing impact of COVID-19, Congo’s public finances have improved significantly this year due to high production of chief exports copper and cobalt, lending from donors and government efforts to boost tax collection.

By the end of August, foreign exchange reserves reached $3.3 billion, or 13.5 weeks of imports, up from $710.3 million when Lukonde’s government was sworn in in April. By the end of October Congo had already exceeded forecast revenues for the whole of 2021.

“This performance allows us to hope that with greater effort mobilizing revenues… the country can reach even higher budgets, fulfilling its potential,” Lukonde said.

He said the government would further increase tax revenues by digitising customs and other tax reporting, identifying mining companies no longer entitled to certain tax breaks, and expanding the tax base from telecommunications services.

Previous Congolese governments have struggled to live up to promises to meaningfully expand public revenues and typically end up spending only about half of what their budgets call for.

The current government has benefited from extensive donor assistance, including from the International Monetary Fund, which resumed lending to Congo in 2019 seven years after the IMF suspended its last lending programme.

In July, the IMF agreed a three-year, $1.52 billion extended credit facility with President Felix Tshisekedi’s government to support economic reforms and pandemic recovery. (Reporting by Aaron Ross and Hereward Holland; Writing by Hereward Holland; Editing by Jan Harvey)

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