News ID: 215047
Published: 1023 GMT May 14, 2018

Battle to survive in Congo republic as wages, pensions dry up

Battle to survive in Congo republic as wages, pensions dry up

If it wasn’t for two sons in France sending money, pensioner George Kimbembe said he’d have joined the ranks of the dead in the Republic of Congo’s capital, Brazzaville.

That foreign cash is a lifeline for the 76-year-old former civil servant who hasn’t received his pension for 13 months. It’s a shortfall emblematic of a fiscal crisis engulfing the oil-producing central African country that was battered by lower crude prices, owes creditors more than $9 billion and is seeking an International Monetary Fund bailout, Bloomberg wrote.

“How does the government expect us to survive?” Kimbembe said in an interview. “Some of my fellow pensioners have died because they couldn’t pay for their medication or feed themselves.”

Such complaints are echoed throughout Brazzaville and the broader country of 4.2 million people, where companies can’t meet their bills, employees — if they’ve been kept on — wait months for wages and foreign business owners talk of calling it quits. The IMF says Congo’s economy contracted 4.6 percent last year, the largest drop since 1994. It may grow an anemic 0.7 percent in 2018.

Ruled for two decades by President Denis Sassou Nguesso and home to sub-Saharan Africa’s fourth-biggest oil reserves, Congo is ranked among the world’s 20 most corrupt nations by anti-graft campaigners Transparency International. Authorities are repeatedly accused by groups such as Human Rights Watch of cracking down on political opponents.

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