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Vol 38 No 14

Published 4th July 1997


Going for broke

Finance Minister Ani says the economy is booming but no one believes it any more

First, look at the figures which General Sani Abacha prefers. Inflation was at 70 per cent in late 1995 and is now at 20 per cent. Foreign exchange reserves tripled last year to over US$4 billion and rose a further 50 per cent in the first quarter of this year, enough to pay for six months' imports. The stock exchange outperformed most emerging markets last year and has risen by 22 per cent so far in 1997. These are the figures presented by Anthony Ani, Finance Minister and trained accountant. The World Bank, in a report for a creditors' meeting in Washington on 9-12 June, reached different conclusions. 'In real per capita terms, consumption and income are no higher than they were in the early 1970s, before the oil boom.' The government's stated policies and objectives are, said the Bank, impeccable. But their implementation has been woefully inadequate – and Ani's figures are wrong.

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