Political stability vital if GuineaBissau is to make economic progress – Annan

Guinea-Bissau’s economic reconstruction remains so fragile that it is vital the country’s main political figures show potential international donors and economic partners they can put national interests ahead of their own and resolve any disputes peacefully, Secretary-General Kofi Annan says in a report released today.“Without political stability, development cannot advance and cooperation with international partners, including investors, cannot be guaranteed,” Mr. Annan writes in his latest report to the Security Council on the work of the UN Peacebuilding Support Office in Guinea-Bissau (UNOGBIS).He cites an International Monetary Fund (IMF) mission to discuss emergency assistance, planned for next month, as an example of the kinds of outside support that the impoverished West African nation needs.Donors at a round table held last month in Geneva pledged to give $262 million to Guinea-Bissau, well short of the goal of $538 million.Government revenue is also below target because of lower than expected fees from fishing licences, hurt by a delay in negotiating a new agreement with the European Union (EU), and taxes on the export of cashew nuts, which have been hit by the combination of a rise in the producer price and a drop in world prices.“Therefore the country needs urgent short-term support to close the budget gap for 2006-07 and to implement its poverty reduction plan and proposed security sector reform,” Mr. Annan says, urging the international community to give more generously.He also calls on Guinea-Bissau’s Government to step up its efforts to tackle corruption and pursue good governance.UNOGBIS was created in 1999 to help Guinea-Bissau emerge from the devastation of a civil war in which thousands were killed, wounded or forced from their homes. read more