Central African Republic plans to issue a bond on a new regional bourse later this year, to help raise funds to boost its ailing economy and curb insecurity, the country's prime minister told Reuters in an interview.
The former French colony, which languishes at the bottom of most development rankings, is notoriously unstable, and while the government has pinned its hopes for growth on gold, diamonds and other minerals, there is little industrial extraction.
"Current information suggests [that] the Central African state needs around $1 billion to assure security and peace, and [to] drive its economic development," said Prime Minister Elie Dote, who is also minister of finance.
"The state has taken the decision to raise funds ... on the central African financial market, to fund the reconstruction of the national economy," he said in the interview late on Friday.
Government officials said [that] the bond was due to be issued by the end of June 2007, and aimed to raise 45 billion CFA francs ($92 million).
A nascent bourse in Gabon, which will eventually serve all six nations of the Economic and Monetary Community of Central Africa (CEMAC), including Central African Republic, inaugurated its settlement and clearing system in January.
Officials said then that the new market should open for business once a trading system was installed in the second half of 2007, and that the first instrument traded on the exchange was likely to be a bond from Central African Republic.
Other members of CEMAC are Cameroon, Chad, Republic of Congo, Equatorial Guinea and Gabon.
Dote said [that] the country's internal debt, excluding that of state-owned companies, stood at 90 billion CFA francs ($180 million). Unpaid state salaries accumulated over recent years made up a further 70 billion CFA.
A joint study by the World Bank and the government into the state of the economy is currently [under way], with the findings due in June, officials said.
Insecurity in the country's north, where clashes between rebels and government forces have displaced thousands of people in recent weeks alone, [has] taken a heavy economic toll.
"An initial evaluation of our financing needs ... came to around $500 million. But the cost of consolidating security and peace turned out to be higher than expected," Dote said.
France sent special forces, backed by helicopters and fighter jets, to dislodge rebel fighters from a northeastern town in December, and has maintained a presence there ever since.
Central African Republic's government says [that] the rebels destabilising its north -- which borders Sudan's war-torn Darfur region -- have received help from Sudan.
"We are a victim of the Darfur crisis, as well as of internal attacks which have resulted from it, but we continue to work with our neighbours and brothers, to re-establish security and peace," Dote said.