Angola – inflation target of 10% should be met as growth picks up

Mail and Guardian

The governor of its central bank said on Friday.

“The results reached so far tell us that we are on the right track,” Jose de Lima Massano told a business conference, adding that the central bank’s new monetary framework introduced last year, including a benchmark interest rate, was helping it reach its targets.

The central banker said year-on-year inflation came in at 10.02% in July, with cumulative inflation from the start of 2012 at 4.5%.

Asked if Angola – Africa’s No. 2 oil producer after Nigeria – now had room to lower the 10% inflation target for this year, Massano said it was too early to see the target as already achieved.

“We have not reached, or are at least not yet assured of, the goal on inflation. The year-on-year rate is in line with the goal, but we have some months to go, and in November and December we usually see (upward) pressure on prices,” he said.

Cumulative inflation
“We feel we have the instruments to reach the goal and the fact that until July we have cumulative inflation for the year under 5% gives us comfort. But we cannot yet go into euphoria, it is an ongoing effort.”

Since taking the job in October 2010, Massano has been praised by the International Monetary Fund and credit rating agencies for executing a policy which has cut inflation, kept the kwanza currency stable and boosted foreign reserves.

The central bank chief said there were reasons to be satisfied with Angola’s economy as it had kept growing even during a period of turbulence in the global economy.

Angola’s economy posted average growth of 15% each year between 2002 and 2008, but growth braked to 2.4% in 2009 and was 3.4% the following year after oil prices fell.

After disappointing oil output due to technical problems last year, when the economy also grew 3.4%, GDP is expected to expand between 8% and 10% this year.

Oil production represents 95% of the country’s export income and about 45% of GDP. Economists have urged the government to diversify its income sources and protect itself from possible impacts of oil shocks.

Massano said the central bank had injected more than $11 billion in foreign currency into the economy this year until the end of August – a 34% increase from the same period last year – in response to demand created by economic growth, but warned that should not hinder national production.

“We should manage the way we make foreign currency available, lest we create barriers to production. Here we have many economic agents operating in commerce, but we need to see more companies producing goods,” he said.

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