France on Friday said it was ready to help Congo offset its indebtedness of 135 million euros, if Brazzaville concludes a stimulus programme with the International Monetary Fund like other Central African countries.
The amount is part of a billion euro aid/loan package France has earmarked for Central African countries belonging to the CFA franc zone that have been hit by the fall in oil prices.
This was made known at a meeting of 14 ministers from the CFA franc zone in Brazzaville,Congo.
“Before the current economic crisis my country Congo was at the forefront of this situation and it bore the weight of the zone by itself. I am also grateful to other zone members for never complaining about Congo’s bad economic situation. So this principle of solidarity is still at play “, said Congolese Finance Minister, Calixte Ganongo.
Since the end of 2016, France and the IMF have paid particular attention to the Central African Economic and Monetary Community (CEMAC), which experienced zero growth in 2017.
In a communiqué, the bloc’s ministers “noted the risks arising from large public deficits and rapid indebtedness”,adding its struggle for progress in the zone, reflects the many obstacles to regional integration.
The communiqué however made no reference to the debate on the CFA franc, which some Africans consider a post-colonial legacy with 50% of foreign exchange reserves managed by the French Treasury, which pays interest at a guaranteed rate to African countries.
Economists also argue that the fixed parity with a strong currency such as the euro (around 1 euro for 656) penalizes CFA exports.