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Angola Wins World Bank Praise for Improving Transparency

Angola, sub-Saharan Africa’s biggest oil producer after Nigeria, won praise from the World Bank for improving controls over state finances and increasing transparency of crude sales.

“The government has improved collection and reporting processes for oil revenues and transfers,” the World Bank said in a report released today. “The authorities have made significant strides in improving the transparency and accountability of public financial management, but challenges remain.”

Angola was ranked 157 out of 176 countries on Transparency International’s 2012 corruption perceptions index, behind Yemen and Kyrgyzstan. In March last year, New York-based Human Rights Watch said $32 billion went missing from the state’s books between 2007 and 2010. The discrepancies in accounting were because of “insufficient annotation” of oil revenues that weren’t transferred directly to the state by Sonangol EP, according to the government.

“The 2013 national budget includes, for the first time, quasi-fiscal operations undertaken by the state-owned company Sonangol, which will help to reduce the budgetary uncertainty associated with oil-revenue flows,” the World Bank said.

Oil dominates the southwestern African nation’s economy, accounting for more than 60 percent of domestic output and 97 percent of export earnings. Offshore fields operated by companies including Exxon Mobil Corp. (XOM), Chevron Corp. (CVX), BP Plc (BP/) and Total SA (FP) pump about 1.8 million barrels of oil a day.

Growth Outlook

The World Bank said it forecasts Angola’s economy to expand 7.2 percent this year, down from about 8.1 last year, and 7.5 percent in 2014.

“These projections are based on sustained increases in oil production, relatively stable international prices and continued growth in the non-oil sectors, particularly construction,” the Washington-based lender said. “Despite its favorable near-term outlook, Angola’s reliance on oil revenues and imports leaves the economy highly vulnerable to external shocks.”

Angola’s decision to establish a sovereign wealth fund may help stabilize government spending in the face of oil-price volatility, the bank said. It called for the fund’s mandate and governing framework to be more clearly specified.

To contact the reporter on this story: Mike Cohen in Cape Town at mcohen21@bloomberg.net;

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Nasreen Seria at nseria@bloomberg.net

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