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IMF Tells Congo to Reform Economy

VOA News - October 27, 2005

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) told the Congolese government to carry out economic reforms rather than print more money to pay civil servants who are threatening to go on strike. Having already endured weeks of strikes by teachers across the country, Congo's government faces further problems as the public service unions call for a shut down of the government until they get a pay rise.

Teachers struck for higher wages during the opening few weeks of the school year, and now civil servants are threatening to follow suit in order to force the government to negotiate a pay hike.

The International Monetary Fund, which is trying to help Congo's economic recovery says the congolese government should not print more money as it has done in the past. Instead, the IMF said Kinshasa must adopt economic reforms, clean up payroll data to weed out non-existent workers and soldiers and tackle government corruption.

Despite a wealth of natural resources, Congo's economy has been reeling under poor management and government corruption. Inflation in the early 1990s hit quadruple figures.

But following the end Congo's five-year civil war that sucked in six neighboring countries and killed more than four million people, the economy has stabilized. Under the guidance of the IMF, inflation dropped to 19 percent and the economy is currently growing at six percent.

Still, government workers are paid little and not regularly. Soldiers earn $12 a month. The independent group Transparency International ranks Congo among the world's most corrupt countries.

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