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On Bissau, IMF Focuses on Cashews & Cuts to Industry, UN on Strikes & Syrians

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, February 18 -- Guinea Bissau is poor and is getting poorer, even as the UN and International Monetary Fund crank out reports about transit strikes and cashew prices.

  An IMF team under Mauricio Villafuerte visited Bissau from February 10 to 13, and has today concluded that "Growth and fiscal prospects for 2014 hinge on the success of the cashew campaign and external support. The mission highlighted the importance of setting clear policy guidelines as soon as possible to avoid the uncertainty that undermined last year’s cashew campaign. In this context, the mission suggested to suspend contributions toward the industrialization program (FUNPI)."

  Meanwhile UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's report on Guinea Bissau, to be formally issued later as a document of the Security Council under the symbol S/2014/105, highlights strikes by teachers and in the transport sector, and that "the drop in cashew nut prices in 2013 was one of the main shocks for 74 percent of households."

  The "socio-economic" section of Ban Ki-moon report on Bissau doesn't mention the FUNPI industrialization program to which the IMF suggests suspending contributions. Industrialization, we hardly knew ye.

  Ban Ki-moon's 16-page report on Guinea Bissau devotes two long paragraphs to "74 individuals claiming to be Syria nationals who had arrived in Bissau from Casablanca, attempted to board a commercial flight to Lisbon with fake Turkish passports... the air crew were allegedly forced to transport the 74 individuals to Lisbon [where they] requested asylum from Portugal. The airline suspended its flights to and from Bissau."

  As an aside, despite much European hand-wringing about Syria, the number of refugees and asylum seekers taken has been extremely low. Inner City Press asked UNHCR's Syria coordinator Amin Awad about that, for that video, from Minute 15:50, click here. Watch this site.


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