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Chad must cut costs or risk ruin: finance minister

The cash-strapped central African nation of Chad risks bankruptcy unless it implements drastic austerity measures, its finance minister has warned after a backlash against government plans to lower the wages of civil servants.

Civil service salaries in 2017 totalled 376 billion CFA francs (about 600 million euros/$720 million), roughly the equivalent of the combined revenue from income tax and customs duties, according to official figures given to AFP.

“It’s worth knowing that over a period of 10 years, the wage bill (of public servants) has increased by 700 percent,” Finance and Budget Minister Abdoulaye Fadoul Sabre told journalists late Thursday.

“Today we need to make sacrifices collectively in the hope of redressing state finances and preserve social gains,” he said.

“If nothing is done, the public treasury won’t even be able to pay wages anymore, regardless of the government or minister in place.”

Despite the depleted coffers, Fadoul said civil servant wages would still be paid in January.

However, some employees including teachers could see their bonuses cut by 50 percent under a new finance law, he warned.

Oil-producing Chad is one of the poorest countries in the world. Nearly half of its population lives below the threshold of poverty.

The country is under pressure to cut costs to meet performance targets under an International Monetary Fund (IMF) aid programme.

Earlier this month, the government was forced to shelve plans to reduce the salaries of state employees after angry opposition from trade unions.

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