Sao Tome wants to set up service center with airport and duty-free areas

25 May 2006

Sao Tome, Sao Tome and Principe, 25 May –The new government of Sao Tome and Principe wants to set up a service center on the archipelago, using the project for the country’s new international airport and creation of duty-free areas.

The creation of the service center is one of the priorities set out by the government of Tomé Vera Cruz, for the next four years, which was presented to the Sao Tome parliament this week.

The document said that Sao Tome’s geographic location on the African continent is “strategic,” and the planned infrastructures, along with the deepwater port planned for the archipelago, will make it possible to develop the country’s services sector.

In terms of infrastructures the new government has set out as a priority, along with the large-scale projects, improvement of road systems and stabilizing power supply on the archipelago.

Another priority is resolving debt owed to the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), of almost US$300 million, a process which the government has said it plans to conclude by the end of the year.

Sao Tome was due to enter the final phase of the Highly Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) program next month, but high levels of inflation and public expenditure have put pay to this target, according to a recent statement by Finance Minister Maria Tebus Torres.

In agriculture, the government plans to change land laws in order to resolve the situation created by the splitting and distribution of large properties known as “roças” into small plots for families to farm, which led to a fall in agricultural production and price hikes for most products. (macauhub)