« This global financial crisis has not affected us so severely »
In an interview with Les Afriques, issued on April 18, 2009, Benin Economy and Finance Minister, Soulé Mana Lawani, predicts though that the fall in cotton prices will affect his country.
Interview by Mamadou Lamine Diatta, Dakar
Internet Source: www.lesafriques.org
Translated by Alfred Cossi Chodaton
You have just participated in the 13th West Africa Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU) Heads of State summit. How does Benin appreciate the integration process?
You know, WAEMU is a union where integration is real and this union must lead us to a better future. Of course, this organization merging eight West African countries including Benin has just been fifteen year old and its achievements will be assessed. However, meanwhile, one can say that we have gone through the food crisis, the energy crisis and global financial crisis without serious damages thanks to the notion of economic solidarity, which is a key word in our Community.
How does the economic situation of your country, Benin look like?
At macroeconomic level, we have recorded, for last year, a rise of growth rate. It is about 6.1%. Benin also has a budget of 1238 billion CFA F, otherwise, 1.890 billion Euros, a moderated inflation rate. Moreover, our State finances are doing very well.
How is Benin coping with the global financial crisis?
This global financial crisis has not affected us so severely. You know Benin is not so connected the International financial system. We have therefore been through without much troubles, this does not mean we are not going to be affected. We are apprehensive about problems concerning crops such as cotton, our main export product. It is obvious that the global demand is going to drop regarding this product. Hence, this will inevitably impact considerably the prices at a global level and therefore the quantity of cotton sold annually by Benin.
How does your country intends reduce the effects of the crisis on the populations?
Foremost, we have prepared accordingly for diversification our agricultural production so as not to rely solely upon cotton crop. In this perspective, the food crops such as rice, maize, and mainly tubers are to be promoted.
What is the priority of Benin economy presently?
The superiority, I would say, is to ensure the energy supply and the diversification of our agricultural production in order to have an industrial tissue large enough.
What are the economic perspectives for West African Sub-Region?
Generally, the sub-regional economy is doing well. This has been pointed out during WAEMU Heads of State and Government summit, which took place in Ouagadougou. WAEMU countries recorded growth rate of 3.9% against 3.6% the year before. This means that we have somehow endured the shock. This means that the eight countries of the Community have done better in copping with crisis than many other parts of the World.