Maputo — Mozambican Prime Minister Carlos Agostinho do Rosario on Thursday told the Mozambican parliament, the Assembly of the Republic, that by the end of 2018 the government had achieved "more than 60 per cent of the targets contained in the government's five year programme (for 2015-2019), despite the adverse and challenging situations we have faced".
The prospect of meeting the other 40 per cent in the final year looks bleak, however - especially because the Mozambican economy was severely damaged by the two cyclones that hit the county in March and April.
Speaking at the end of a two day question and answer session between the deputies and the government, Rosario stressed that 156 health units had been built throughout the country, reducing the average distance a Mozambican has to walk to reach the nearest health unit to 12 kilometres.
The government had built 3,000 new classrooms, and had distributed 557,635 new school desks. Many of these desks were made from the timber seized during "Operation Trunk", the government offensive against illegal loggers.
The new desks, said Rosario, meant that over 2.2 million children no longer had to sit on the floor when they attended classes. (This figure is possible because each desk seats two children, and can be used in at least two school shifts).
The water distribution network had been extended, he continued, so that 17.5 million people, in both urban and rural areas now have access to clean drinking water.
Inflation had been brought under control, said the Prime Minister. Annual inflation had reached 26 per cent in 2016, but had now fallen to around four per cent. At the same time the Mozambican currency, the metical, had stabilised. The exchange rate had plummeted to 80 meticais to the dollar in 2016, but in recent months has fluctuated in a narrow band of between 62 and 65 to the dollar.
Rosario claimed that the government has been recovering the confidence of its international partners "and we are on a good path for establishing a new programme with the IMF".
The IMF suspended its previous progamme in April 2016, and other partners also suspended financial assistance, because of the scandal of Mozambique's "hidden debts " - the over two billion dollars of loans that three fraudulent companies obtained from the banks Credit Suisse and VTB of Russia, thanks to illicit guarantees issued by the previous government, under President Armando Guebuza.
But the government's top priority had been to restore definitive peace, through dialogue with the former rebel movement Renamo.
"On this front, despite the ups and downs of this sinuous process, steps were taken that culminated with the guns falling silent in our country", said Rosario. He was referring to the truce declared by the late Renamo leader, Afonso Dhlakama, in December 2016, which has held to the present without any significant violations.
The Prime Minister was confident that "we are now advancing firmly towards the attainment of a definitive peace".