Angola’s long-ruling MPLA promised to fight widespread poverty by introducing a minimum income and subsidies for the elderly if it wins an election next month in Africa’s second biggest oil producer.
Observers say President Jose Eduardo dos Santos – who has been in power for 32 years – is likely to lead the MPLA to a win in the vote on August 31 to choose lawmakers and a president.
Opposition parties and global rights groups have long accused Dos Santos’ government of mismanaging oil revenues and doing too little to fight poverty in Africa’s top oil producer after Nigeria, Reuters reports.
In an election manifesto presented on Tuesday, the party said strong growth since the end of a 27-year civil war a decade ago has allowed the government to cut poverty levels from 68 percent of the population in 2002 to around 39 percent in 2009.
“The MPLA is conscious there is still much to do so that the growth the country is going through reaches the home and the heart of every Angolan,” it said, adding its main focus will be to combat hunger and extreme poverty.
While it announced measures including the minimum income programme and the subsidies for the elderly, it did not provide details on how they would be implemented.
On the macroeconomic front, it said there were signs Angola was overcoming the impact of the global financial crisis which forced growth to slow to an average to 3.4 percent in each of the last two years after an average growth of 17 percent per year from 2002 to 2008.
It said it expected the economy to expand 8.9 percent this year and promised to guarantee an average annual GDP growth rate of up to 7 percent until 2017.
The IMF on Monday said it expected Angola’s economy to grow 6.8 percent this year and 5 percent in 2013. It said the country remains vulnerable to oil revenue shocks.
The MPLA government has launched a drive to diversify the economy – which analysts say is yet to show results – but said the main driver of growth would remain oil and gas revenues.
The MPLA won the civil war against rebel group UNITA and then crushed its rivals in an election in 2008, obtaining 82 percent of the vote.
Observers say it is likely to win next month’s poll thanks to its superior funding resources, control of state media and a fragmented opposition.