Benin - Future trends

After success in the 2001 presidential election, President Mathieu Kerekou was expected to continue with his popular poverty reduction and growth program, which is set to last to 2003. Driven by plans for increased public investment and commitments of donor support, real GDP growth is expected to remain at around the 5 percent a year level, allowing for steady improvements in average living standards. Cereal production still faces problems, despite recent improvements, as a result of weak infrastructure and delays in payments to farmers. Future growth rates are expected to be below the rate of population increase, leading to increased reliance on food imports. Sound monetary policy, implemented by the regional central bank, is projected to keep inflation at around 3 percent. The gap between international payments and receipts will be helped by increased foreign aid, expansion in cotton exports, and debt relief from the Heavily Indebted Poor Country (HIPC) scheme, a program instituted by the IMF and World Bank to help the poorest countries manage their foreign debt.

In politics, the multiparty system introduced in 1990 appears to be secure, with all parties prepared to accept the verdict of the ballot box. President Kerekou appears unlikely to make any major change in the style and composition of his executive team. The new anti-corruption measures, which require leaders to declare their assets, is now being implemented, and there are high expectations that they will increase honesty in public life. An interesting development is the introduction of a new electoral code in which expatriate residents are able to vote, and this move is seen as an attempt to make politics less inward-looking.

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