Central African Republic: IRIN News Briefs, 22 December

World Bank approves "post-conflict" credit
The World Bank has approved a US $20 million fiscal consolidation credit to CAR, aimed at helping the country carry out its basic functions in a still fragile post-conflict context. A World Bank news release last week said the immediate objective was the timely payment of wages to government employees and the military. "This should enhance the prospects for sustained civil peace and economic recovery, which will lay the foundations for poverty reduction," the statement said. It noted the emergence of a growing consensus across the political spectrum in CAR that fiscal consolidation, economic reform, improved governance and civil peace were all needed to put the country back on the development path. "The credit seeks to support this consensus and the new government's commitment to fiscal discipline, improved governance and economic reform," the release stated.

IMF team seeking ways of boosting tax receipts

Meanwhile a delegation of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) is visiting Bangui to seek ways to boost tax receipts in CAR, AFP reported. It cited CAR officials as saying the experts were to hand over an IMF report on customs and duties, and help set up a value added tax in CAR. The head of the delegation, Patrick Fossat, said he was both optimistic and pessimistic over the country's financial authorities, stating that "bad habits" had prevented the collection of funds for state coffers, AFP reported.

Premier outlines priorities

Prime Minister Anicet Georges Dologuele, who was reappointed in October following elections, has placed economic reform and restructuring the armed forces at the top of his list of priorities. In a recent interview with Radio France Internationale, he acknowledged that in order to succeed, state authority must be restored. "We have been through a series of crises which slowly weakened state authority to the point that one has the impression that everyone does what they want," he said. "So we must completely overhaul the administration." Asked how he would restructure the army, Dologuele replied that with the upcoming departure of the UN mission, CAR would move to the "practical phase". This meant demobilisation, a recruitment plan and reconstructing the barracks. On wage arrears, he admitted civil servants were owed 12 months back pay. An anti-corruption drive would be launched, starting with traders and public workers who were known to be corrupt and the policy would be consolidated once the judicial system was put in motion.

Annan proposes post-MINURCA UN presence

The UN mission, MINURCA, is due to pull out by 15 February 2000 and the repatriation process is underway. UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan sent a multi-disciplinary mission to Bangui last month to discuss setting up a small UN political office after MINURCA's mandate expires. Annan said the primary mission of the new UN office would be to support the government's efforts in consolidating peace and national reconciliation. The proposed 'UN Peace-Building Support Office' (BONUCA) would have an initial mandate of one year and would include a small number of military and civilian police advisers to follow up on security-related reforms and assist in implementing training programmes for the national police.

UN impressed by government's "sense of purpose"

In a separate letter to the president of the Security Council on 10 December, Annan said CAR President Ange-Felix Patasse had expressed concern over the MINURCA withdrawal. The president would have preferred that the UN mission stay until December 2000, even with a reduced military strength. Annan said members of last month's UN mission to Bangui were impressed by their talks with the CAR authorities, noting the "professionalism and sense of purpose" of the new government. The proposal to set up the post-MINURCA peace-building office was the fruit of these talks, he added. "In order to achieve a seamless transition from peacekeeping to post-conflict peace-building, every effort will be made to ensure that BONUCA is operational on 15 February 2000," Annan stated.


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