Ivory Coast’s government has announced a new budget of $15.47 billion for the 2021 financial year, marking an increase of 6.9% on 2020’s budget.

According to the Government Spokesman’s Office, the budget’s increase is meant to improve the living standards of people affected by the corona virus pandemic. As such, there are inclusions of social welfare programmes for the elderly, orphans and youths which take up 6% of the budget.

Moreover, the government is targeting to offer cost free loans to Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in the country, to boost a sluggish economy hurt by the pandemic. The Statistics Office says that about 1.5 million Ivorians have lost jobs in the last six months, and 15% of SME’s have been shut down.

The budget may however be changed next month, should President Alassane Quattara lose the upcoming elections. The head of state caused controversy when earlier this year he announced his bid to run for a third term, a move that civil society groups and the opposition say is unconstitutional.

The government did not elaborate how they plan to reduce its budget deficit of more than 8% which is one of the commitments that Ivory Coast made – alongside seven other West African states, as part of a framework to introduce a new currency (the Eco) that will replace the CFA franc.

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