Economy on target to meet government goals

Judging from its performance in the first quarter of the year, the Mozambican economy is set to meet the targets laid down by the government in the Economic and Social Plan for 2015, according to Prime Minister Carlos Agostinho do Rosario.

Speaking on 22 July at a question and answer session in the Mozambican parliament, the Assembly of the Republic, Rosario said the preliminary figures indicated annual GDP growth of six per cent in the first quarter of this year “which opens good prospects for meeting the target of 7.5 per cent growth for 2015”.

By June, the average 12 monthly inflation rate was 2.4 per cent, he added, well below the target of an average inflation rate of 5.1 per cent in the government’s plans.

Despite the fall in the world market prices of several of Mozambique’s key exports, export revenue in the first quarter of the year reached US$823 million.

Rosario noted that the strengthening of the dollar had led to the depreciation of several African currencies, including the Mozambican metical. But he was optimistic that a continued rise in exports and attraction of more foreign investment would lead “to the stabilisation of the exchange rate in the long term”.

The government had been able to hire new staff in the first half of the year, including 8,273 new teachers and 1,963 health workers. 387 new classrooms had been built, and 71,975 school desks had been distributed. Based on solar panels, five towns, 92 schools and 46 health centres had been electrified.

In response to a question about the government’s land policy from the main opposition party, Renamo, the Prime Minister declared that access to land was one of the main gains of Mozambican independence. A fundamental principle of the Mozambican constitution was that all land is state property, but citizens are granted the right to use land, through titles known as DUATs.

“Land policy in our country advocates the rights of the population and of investors to use land, while safeguarding the sustainable use of land and other natural resources”, Rosario said. “This Land Policy is a strong instrument intended to protect the interests of Mozambican peasant farmers, but without prejudicing access to land by private companies”.

The government’s policy, he added, was to combine formal legislation with customary rules on land tenure and management. He believed this “brings advantages which guarantee the defence of the interests of rural communities, prevents conflicts and favours the development of partnerships between communities and private investors”.

Agriculture Minister Jose Pacheco denied the frequent claim that Pro-Savana, a triangular agricultural development programme between Mozambique, Brazil and Japan, is a land grab, depriving peasant farmers of their land in the north of the country. Its real purpose, he said, was to improve farmers’ yields and boost food security.

“Our main ally is the small and medium farmer”, Pacheco declared, “who will gradually evolve away from subsistence agriculture to intensive, market-oriented agriculture. Pro-Savana does not, and never will, directly manage any land. Instead we shall develop the capacity of managers and producers for the defence of peasant and local community land tenure”.