Angolan Opposition Parties Call for Audit of Public Debt

(Bloomberg) -- Angola’s largest opposition parties called for a probe of the country’s public debt to determine who benefited from it under the previous government, saying an investigation would show that President Joao Lourenco is serious about his pledge to fight corruption.

A probe is “urgent,” according to lawmakers Adalberto Costa Jr. of the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola, known as Unita, and Andre Mendes de Carvalho of Casa-Ce. The two parties have 67 representatives in Angola’s 220-seat parliament.

Parliament on Thursday approved the government’s 2018 budget, the first such debate under Lourenco, who succeeded Jose Eduardo dos Santos after winning elections last year. Public-debt payments account for 52 percent of expenditure in the budget, compared with 32 percent the previous year, according to the Finance Ministry.

“The central theme of this budget is clearly public debt,” said Costa Jr. An audit can determine whether the funds were used for the projects they were allocated for, he said.

Lourenco has repeatedly pledged to tackle corruption in Africa’s second-biggest oil producer, which ranks among the 20 most corrupt countries in the world, according to Berlin-based Transparency International.

“Government fiscal policy will be limited by the debt burden,” said Precioso Domingos, an economist at the Catholic University of Angola in the capital, Luanda. “If the audit proves that there has been a lot of corruption, that there was an intent to indebt the state to benefit certain people, this can be solved.”

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