Burundi Political Crisis Takes Toll on Economy as Revenue Falls

  • Revenue collection for 2015 under target by about 18 percent
  • Growth was `under zero' until September, Finance Ministry says

Burundi’s nine-month political crisis has spurred an economic contraction in the East African nation, hitting revenue collection, tourism and industrial activity, an official said.

The country collected 590.6 billion Burundian francs ($376.2 million) in taxes in 2015, compared with a target of 720 billion francs, Domitien Ndihokubwayo, general commissioner of Burundi’s revenue authority, told reporters Tuesday in the capital, Bujumbura. The target this year is 678 billion francs, he said.

“Burundi’s security situation impacted a lot on our economy,” Ndihokubwayo said. “That is why our collection targets were not met. The economy fell very rapidly, but is rising slowly.” Revenue has begun to increase again “due to the restoration of security,” he said.

Landlocked Burundi, home to 6 percent of the world’s nickel reserves, has been hit by unrest that’s killed about 440 people since President Pierre Nkurunziza decided to stand for re-election in April. It’s a member of the East African Community, a five-nation bloc with a combined gross domestic product of $147.5 billion, and a coffee-exporter.

“Until September 2015, economic growth was under zero,” Finance Ministry spokesman Desire Musharitse told reporters at the same briefing. He said a full-year figure would be available “soon” and that the country forecasts 3.5 percent growth for 2016. The International Monetary Fund in October said Burundi’s economy could contract 7.2 percent in 2015.

“In terms of industry, I think the sector will rise, but for tourism we have realized that people are scared to come to Burundi because of the crisis,” Musharitse said in an interview.

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