World Bank to Grant Ivory Coast Budget Aid as Cocoa Price Slumps

Workers arrange bags containing cocoa beans at a cocoa processing factory in Ile-Oluji village in Ondo state, southwest Nigeria March 30, 2016. REUTERS/Akintunde Akinleye

The World Bank will grant Ivory Coast $100 million to $125 million in budget support in the coming months as a sharp drop in cocoa prices hurts the finances of the world’s biggest producer.

The lender said it hopes to release the money in the next few months to help the West African nation deal with financing needs, news website reported, citing Makhtar Diop, the World Bank’s vice president for Africa. The announcement was made Friday following a meeting in Washington with Ivory Coast’s government officials.

The amount of aid will depend on the “strength of the reforms” that the Ivory Coast government puts in place, Jean-Noel Amantchi Gogoua, senior operations officer at the World Bank’s Ivory Coast offices, said in emailed comments relayed by the communications office on Saturday.

The assistance will help the nation’s finances affected by “internal and external shocks,” including falling cocoa prices that weighed on the country’s income, Gogoua said. Cocoa is Ivory Coast’s biggest export crop and accounts for about a fifth of the nation’s shipments. New York-traded cocoa futures fell by 41 percent in the past year.

Ivory Coast was forced to trim its 2017 budget by a tenth as prices tumbled in the past year, President Alassane Ouattara said this week. Government costs have soared as officials tried to defuse military and social unrest by agreeing to pay bonuses to soldiers and making some concessions to civil servants who led a strike this year.

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