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Burundi economy recovering

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Burundi is recovering from the wounds of a decade long civil war that left its social, political and economic settings in tatters. The war ate up almost every sector, destroying several parastatal companies and private enterprises, while also bringing down the institutional management capacity.
With a real growth of 3.9 per cent in 2010, Burundi is obviously one of the poorest in the world with the proportions of the population under the poverty line nearing 70 per cent. Today, a Burundian earns about 300 times lower than a South Korean who had almost the same income as the Burundian in 1960.
Now that the war has ended, it's time for the population to reap from the dividends of a hardly and dearly recovered peace, and this has been the slogan of Burundi president Pierre Nkurunziza since his election in 2005. The time now is for reconstruction and for firm reforms in all sectors to kick starts its economy. With the help of the traditional and new bilateral partners, a number of initiatives have been undertaken to give a new impetus to a crawling economy confronted with innumerable complications.
Traditionally, the economy of Burundi has relied on the agricultural sector which accounts for about 35 per cent of the country's GDP and employs over 90 per cent of the work force.  The agricultural revenues come essentially from coffee, tea and cotton exports. But the dominantly subsistence sector has been recording recurrent failures as it depends on the generosity of the weather. Therefore, any climatic perturbations lead to production deficits, with direct implications to households and national incomes.
The budget of Burundi is chronically deficient. For 2011, Burundi expects from donors more than 50 per cent of its 2011 budget, the first ever to exceed one trillion BIF. The actual amount is 1,026 billion BIF (about 1 billion USD).
It is therefore clear that for Burundi to attain strong human economic development, it needs to set up effective investment policies. Unfortunately, its 181th rank out of 183 countries in the World Bank Doing Business Report is still distressing.  The war was obviously the main origin of the worst factors to the low level of investment flow. Other obstacles include the existence of bureaucratic procedures and behaviors, which act in complicity with some obsolete, overlapping and rigid laws and regulations.
In a recent seminar, the 2nd Vice-president Gervais Rufyikiri, admitted that there were still powerful impediments working against direct investments. Though the executive thinks his country is worth a better ranking and even tended to question the objectivity of the Doing business report, he at the same time admitted that the country compulsorily needed to operate many reforms in the areas of trade, governance and infrastructure to attract more investments. The second vice-president said "the current rank complicates the relationships with development and economic partners but also daunts potential investors", but also added  "we should not overlook the significant progress made in terms of economic governance including in the investment domain,"
So Burundi should not be perceived as a failed trade environment. A number of institutional and legal reforms have been undertaken. The country has integrated the East African Community since 2007. The likely most powerful African regional grouping is making resolute strides to have partner States widely disparate laws harmonized especially those which have anything to do with the customs union and common market treaties. Burundi is at the same time a member of Comesa, another semi free trade area.  In such circumstances, Burundi has got to operate major institutional and legal changes to cope with regional trade and investment demands.

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