Gabon economic update : protecting the poor despite slower growth

The structure of the Gabonese economy in 2014 reveals a strong dominance of services which account for 57.8 percent of real gross domestic product (GDP), followed by oil industry (20.6 per cent), other industries (15.4 per cent), and agriculture (6.3 per cent). Following lower oil revenues, from reduced prices and production, and lower non-oil revenue, the government reduced public expenditure from 26.7 percent of GDP in 2013 to 23.6 percent in 2014. Despite this, both government wages and salaries and goods and salaries increased leaving public investment to bear much of the brunt of the expenditure cuts resulting in only half of planned public investment being realized. In response to declining oil prices, the government adjusted the initial 2015 budget and revised the revenue assumptions. To cope with the financing gap, the government successfully issued a Eurobond of United States (U.S.) 500 million dollars in June 2015 with a maturity of ten years at a rate of 6.95 percent. Gabon has stated its intention to introduce a modern social protection system, however it has not yet reached the objectives set by the government. It still faces five major challenges to be addressed: (i) a lack of data; (ii) coordination of the system; (iii) ensuring fiscal sustainability; (iv) effective targeting of beneficiaries; and (v) building lesson-learning into policy. To meet these challenges the authors recommend focusing on the following: (a) deepen the analysis of poverty and vulnerability; (b) conduct an institutional audit; (c) formulate a deployment plan; and (d) simulate roll-out options.