2 December 2000

Niger: Government Gets Parliamentary Nod to Rule By Edicts

Niamey, Niger — Niger National Assembly passed a bill Friday authorising the government to rule by edicts, official sources said in Niamey.

It empowers the government to issue edicts for the implementation of programmes concluded with the IMF, the World Bank, the European Union, the African Development Bank (ADB), as well as those under the Highly Indebted Poor Countries Initiative (HIPC).

Besides, government may also issue edicts for the privatisation of State companies, taxes, and ratification of loan agreements under the new law.

Government has defended the move citing the significance of foreign resources to the national budget, "despite huge efforts to mobilise national resources".

The national budget approved Thursday by the National Assembly amounts to 212,625,461,000 CFA francs, some 85 percent of which is expected from external resources. (750 CFA francs =1USD).

Niger is facing serious financial difficulties due to the burden of foreign debt, which could be reduced by at least 45 per cent under the HIPC initiative.

Officials say some four million or 40 percent of the country's estimated 10 million population face the risk of famine because of drought-induced poor agricultural harvest, that has created about 163,000 cereals deficit.

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