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Ivory Coast trims budget, growth forecast for 2017

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Ivory Coast cut its 2017 growth forecast and budget on Wednesday, as its economy seeks to weather sharp falls in the price of cocoa, its main crop.

The budget will be trimmed by around 50 billion CFA francs ($84 million), the government said on Wednesday, narrowing projected cuts from a previously announced 200 billion CFA francs.

Ivory Coast has emerged from a decade-long political crisis capped by a 2011 civil war as Africa’s fastest growing economy. However, both revenue cuts from weaker cocoa prices and pressure from the army for payouts are placing strain on public finances.

President Alassane Ouattara said last month that falling prices for its top export meant spending plans would have to be scaled back sharply.

“The socioeconomic environment has been marked by a drop of 35 percent in the price of cocoa and a rebound of oil prices,” government spokeswoman Anne Ouloto told reporters after a cabinet meeting.

“It’s in this context that the budget was revised,” she added, without explaining why the cuts were smaller than those previously announced.

Total budget spending this year is now projected at 6.448 trillion CFA francs ($10.79 billion) versus 6.501 trillion CFA francs ($838.52 million) proposed late last year.

Ouloto, who is also a minister, added that the government had cut growth forecast for 2017 to 8.5 percent from 8.9 percent, without elaborating.

Ivory Coast is expected to seek additional loans from the International Monetary Fund. It is currently running a programme worth $659 million over three years.

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