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Mozambique may meet economic, social targets for 2007

The Mozambican government is on target to meet most of the targets laid down in its Economic and Social Plan for 2007.

It quoted the country’s Prime Minister, Luisa Diogo, as telling the parliament that the plan had set a target for a seven per cent growth in Gross Domestic Product.

”This seems likely to be surpassed, since the figures for the first six months show that the Mozambican economy was growing at a rate of 8.8 per cent a year,” he said.

The plan also envisaged a growth in commodity exports of nine per cent.

The Prime Minister said the figure looked set ”to be comfortably surpassed, since up to September the country had exported goods worth 1.844 billion dollars”.

Over three quarters (76.6 per cent) of these export earnings came from just three products – the aluminium ingots produced at the MOZAL smelter on the outskirts of Maputo, the natural gas piped from Inhambane province to South Africa, and electricity, mostly produced at the Cahora Bassa dam on the Zambezi and sold to South Africa and Zimbabwe.

The plan also called for net international reserves sufficient to cover imports of goods and services for four months.

Diogo said that currently the reserves covered five months of imports.

The Mozambican currency, the metical, has also shown gains against both the US dollar and the South African rand.

By September, the metical had appreciated by 1.1 per cent against the dollar and 2.1 per cent against the rand.

Diogo recalled that one of the government’s main goals was to establish conditions to make investment in Mozambique attractive, noting that by October, new investment projects valued at over US$7.3 billion had been approved.

One of the projects, the building of an oil refinery at Nacala-a-Velha, in the northern province of Nampula, accounts for US$5 billion of the amount.

On the inflation rate, it is doubtful whether the government can meet its target for an average annual rate of six per cent.

Diogo said inflation from January to October had reached 5.3 per cent.

As for education, in 2007 a further 722 schools began operating – 677 primary schools, and 45 secondary schools.

The Prime Minister pointed out that economic success was achieved despite a series of disasters at the start of the year – including major flooding in the Zambezi valley, Cyclone Favio that devastated parts of Inhambane and Sofala provinces, and the explosions of obsolete weaponry at a military arsenal in the Maputo suburb of Malhazine, which cost 105 lives and destroyed or damaged hundreds of buildings.

Also beyond the government’s control was the rise in oil prices.

Diogo noted that at the end of 2006, the price was 59 dollars per barrel, and today the average price is 87 dollars a barrel.

“Considering that the Mozambican economy is highly dependent on imported fuels, this situation has negative impacts on the normal functioning of our economy”, she said.

“During parts of the year, there were constant rises in the price of fuel on the internal market,” Diogo said, adding that the government had thus adopted “policy measures to improve constantly domestic macro-economic management, so as to control inflation and minimise the effects on the costs of production”.

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