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Bissau overshoots coffer with $200m budget

17 July 2013, 14:06

Bissau - Guinea-Bissau's parliament approved a budget of more than $200m on Tuesday, despite having only half of that in its coffers, acknowledging that the rest would have to come from international aid.

Members of the National Assembly voted to cover the shortfall from their global partners even though most have suspended aid to the impoverished west African nation since a military coup last year.

The $204m spending plan for the calendar year 2013 represents an increase of $14m on last year.

Education and health will take the largest share of the pot - $41m - while the army has been allocated $20m.

The European Union, the United States and the United Nations all withdrew financial backing following a coup in April last year that overthrew the regime of Carlos Gomes Junior.

Guinea-Bissau, which gained independence from Portugal in 1974 after a war with its colonial master lasting more than a decade, has suffered intermittent unrest since its liberation.

The chronic volatility has fanned poverty in the country of 1.6 million people with few resources other than cashew nuts and fish, attracting South American drug cartels which have turned it into a hub of cocaine-trafficking for west Africa.

It has seen a series of military coups attributed largely to the unprecedented bloating of the army after the war.

A transitional government installed with the agreement of the coup leaders has announced presidential and legislative elections for 24 November.



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