(Corrects year in 3rd paragraph to 2016 instead of "last year")
Oct 13 Gabon's cabinet has cut its 2017 budget
by over 5 percent as persistently low crude prices and falling
output pressure the oil-producing Central African economy, it
said in a statement on Thursday.
Next year's budget will drop to 2.478 trillion CFA francs
($4.23 billion) in 2017 from 2.626 trillion CFA francs this
year, the statement said, citing a drop in oil prices and
production in the OPEC member.
It comes after a small budget drop in 2016 and a 14 percent
drop in 2015, both due to a steep drop in crude prices since
2014 and depleting oil fields.
Gabon is Africa's fourth largest oil producer with an output
of around 220,000 barrels per day, dominated by international
oil majors Total and Royal Dutch Shell.
President Ali Bongo has said that he plans to diversify the
Gabon economy away from oil, but a falling budget will likely
apply further political pressure after his razor thin victory in
a presidential election in August that the opposition said was
rigged. Violent protests ensued in which at least 6 were killed.
Bongo's victory by less than 6,000 votes over opposition
leader Jean Ping has drawn unwelcome scrutiny of the president,
whose family has ruled the oil-producing state in Central Africa
for 49 years. Many in Gabon complain that the oil wealth is not
distributed, leaving most poor and out of work.
Bongo's international reputation has taken a hit since the
election and just a handful of African leaders attended his
($1 = 585.6200 CFA francs)
(Reporting by Edward McAllister; Editing by Sandra Maler)