October 13, 2014 / 12:06 PM / 4 years ago

Congo predicts double-digit economic growth in 2015

KINSHASA (Reuters) - Democratic Republic of Congo’s economy is set to grow by 10.4 percent next year, the government said on Monday, driven by an expansion of agriculture, mining and infrastructure spending in Africa’s largest copper producer.

The forecast, contained in the government’s 2015 budget, was higher than the International Monetary Fund’s 8.5 percent estimate for growth next year. One private economist suggested the forecast was “not implausible” but it would require a recovery in metals prices.

The government’s 2015 outlook also represented an acceleration from its forecast of 8.7 percent growth this year, according to finance ministry figures last month.

Inflation is expected to slow sharply to 3.6 percent, said an official in Prime Minister Augustin Matata Ponyo’s office. Inflation was running at an annualized rate of 9 percent in September in the giant nation at the heart of Africa.

The official said government spending would be 8.36 trillion Congolese francs, or roughly a quarter of economic output, which Ponyo told parliament would be 36.3 trillion ($39.3 billion).

“It’s not implausible that they could breach double-digit growth,” said Patrick Raleigh of Standard & Poor’s, which forecast 7.5 percent growth for next year.

“But they’d need quite a lot to come right for it to move the needle quite as much as they project. There are some doubts about global copper prices in particular.”

Concerns over the possibility of an economic slowdown in China have recently depressed international copper prices. Three-month copper on the London Metal Exchange CMCU3 was up 1.05 percent to $6,715 a ton on Monday, climbing away from five-month lows of $6,600 touched on Oct. 2.

Reporting by Bienvenue-Marie Bakumanya and Aaron Ross; Writing by Daniel Flynn; Editing by Mark Trevelyan

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