March 9, 2018 / 5:53 PM / 9 months ago

Congo's central bank says economy is stabilising

KINSHASA, March 9 (Reuters) - Democratic Republic of Congo’s economy is stabilising as commodity prices rebound, its central bank said on Friday, reiterating its forecast for 5.2 percent growth this year.

The bank said the economy grew 3.7 percent last year, revising its figure from a previous estimate of 3.5 percent.

Congo, which is Africa’s top copper producer and depends on the mining and oil sectors for 95 percent of export revenues, saw GDP growth slide and inflation soar over the past two years due to weak commodity markets and high government deficits.

Central bank Governor Deogratias Mutombo said inflation and currency depreciation were now slowing and foreign exchange reserves had increased to nearly four weeks’ worth of imports after slipping to about two-and-a-half weeks of imports in the middle of last year.

“The Congolese economy is doing better and better,” Mutombo told a monthly news conference. “Even though the results (for 2017) were below our expectations, we firmly believe that 2018 will record a much more satisfactory performance.”

Even so, the bank expects year-end inflation of about 38 percent, down slightly from last year’s 47 percent, and the franc currency continues to lose value against the dollar.

The government hopes to increase revenues from the mining sector following President Joseph Kabila’s announcement on Wednesday that he would sign a revision to the country’s mining code that raises taxes and royalties on investors. (Reporting By Amedee Mwarabu; Writing by Aaron Ross; Editing by Susan Fenton)

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