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Algeria’s pandemic restrictions extended through May


Algeria’s pandemic restrictions extended through May

covid algeria
Photo: Ryad Kramdi/AFP

Algeria’s COVID-19’s lockdown, originally set to expire today, has been extended until the end of May.

Some businesses, such as bakeries and small shops, have been permitted a limited reopening, and the government has offered paid leave to 50% of the country’s workforce. While these efforts may help temporarily, Algeria’s long term financial situation appears grim. Despite a reduced 2020 budget meant to offset a deficit that has been growing over the last five years, Algiers has already depleted half of its foreign currency reserves since 2014. Much of the blame can be attributed to the country’s heavy dependence on oil exports—the sector has been crippled by the pandemic.

The economic crisis comes a year after the demonstrations that ousted President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, who ruled the country for two decades. The government is already slashing state housing programs, energy projects, and infrastructure development, making an even more austere budget for the coming year almost certain. In the short and medium terms, political instability combined with economic lethargy and frustration with limited social spending will likely fuel internal turmoil. In the long term, Algeria will be forced to consider diversifying its revenue streams; the government will likely look more to resources such as gold, uranium and phosphates as a remedy for oil dependence.

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