Kenya Trims 2015 Growth View Again, Citing El Nino, Tight Mone

KENYA-TRIM-CopyKenya’s finance minister further trimmed the country’s 2015 economic growth forecast on Wednesday, citing tighter monetary policy and the potential impact of the El Nino weather phenomenon that has brought heavy rains.

Henry Rotich said growth would be in the range of 5.8 to 6.0 percent. The government already downgraded its forecast to 6 percent in October from the 6.5 to 7 percent it originally predicted.

While still on track to outpace the 5.3 percent growth it recorded in 2014, Kenya’s economy has this year been buffeted by global and domestic factors. A strong dollar and worries about a hefty current account deficit have weighed on the shilling, prompting the central bank to hike interest rates.

Rotich told a briefing he was reviewing spending in fiscal 2015/2016, which ends in July, and that government borrowing could be lower than expected. He did not give figures.

The budget deficit for 2015/16 has been forecast at 8.7 percent of gross domestic product, higher than 2014/15 and a level that has worried economists who say Kenya should be reducing the gap as the economy recovers from a sluggish period.

Rotich said the spending review would be presented to lawmakers but did not say when. “The measures will be reflected in the supplementary budget to be taken to parliament soon,” he told the briefing.

Foreign exchange inflows into Kenya have also suffered because of a series of attacks by Islamist militants in the past two years that have hammered the tourism industry.

El Nino is expected to hit an economy that still relies heavily on agriculture. Kenyan media has already reported flooding due to heavy rains as a result of the weather phenomenon, washing away roads and cutting off some rural areas.

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