Niger trims 2012 budget citing euro zone crisis


Drought-hit Niger, one of the poorest countries in the world, has cut its planned 2012 budget expenditure, saying it wants to avoid the fate of euro zone countries struggling with excess debt.

The West African state, where average income per head was just under a dollar a day last year, said it was following an International Monetary Fund recommendation to cut its 2012 spending to $2.6 billion from $2.9 billion.
“When the IMF advises something, it does so as an informed partner, you can’t take it lightly,” Nigerien Finance Minister Ouhoumoudou Mahamadou told state television late on Sunday, Reuters reports.
“Just look at what is going on in Europe today, all those problems in some cases because such advice was ignored.”

Niger’s uranium mines supply France’s nuclear industry and it expects to become a commercial oil producer next month. Mahamadou said the IMF forecast economic growth could hit 14 percent in 2012, up from roughly 4 percent this year.

Niger is one of the eight countries that use the West Africa CFA franc, which is pegged to the euro. A depreciation in the euro would therefore make its food and fuel imports more expensive but make its export sector more attractive.

Around 40 percent of Niger’s state spending is financed by donor cash. Droughts in 2005 and 2009 led to widespread malnutrition among its 16.5 million population, and the government is warning of a failed harvest again this year.