As Algeria's oil wealth dries up people are demanding to know where the money has gone.

Corruption, youth unemployment and inequality have been at the centre of protests against the two-decades of rule by Algeria's president 81-year-old Abdelaziz Bouteflika.

Despite agreeing not to stand for another term, Algerians have little faith in the business elite, military and politicians running the country.

The country's wealth has been squandered. It had currency reserves of $179bn in December 2014, but that has shrunk to $79.8bn.

Rather than using the oil and gas wealth to diversify the economy, more than a fifth of Algeria's budget is used for subsidies.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) says Algeria's oil and gas revenues account for 95 percent of its export earnings and 60 percent of its budget. But oil prices have been falling and the country's oil and gas production has also been in decline due to a lack of investment - meaning there isn't the money to fill the coffers.

Unemployment in Algeria is running at 11.1 percent. But youth unemployment stands at 26.4 percent for the under 30s, who make up two-thirds of the country's 41-million population.

Taieb Hafsi, strategy and society professor of management at the HEC Montreal, talks to Counting the Cost about the issues behind the protests and the challenges facing Algeria's oil-reliant economy.

What will Rome get from Beijing's Belt and Road Initiative?

Britain's decision to join China's challenger to the World Bank drew a quick rebuke from Washington.

The US claimed the Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank would extend Beijing's soft power.

Three years on, the decision by Italy's new populist government to sign up for investment from Beijing has raised concerns in Western capitals.

The US National Security Council warned: Endorsing the Belt and Road Initiative lends legitimacy to China’s predatory approach to investment and will bring no benefits to the Italian people.

Those concerns are already playing out. China's largess is entrapping vulnerable nations in debt. You may recall Sri Lanka fell behind with payments and had to hand over a vital sea port that had been built with Chinese loans, on a 99-year lease.

Pakistan's attempts to negotiate an IMF loan have been complicated by Washington's unwillingness for the money to be used to pay back Beijing's loans to Pakistan. And in Djibouti where the US has a military base, China opened its first overseas base. At the same time, the country's debts have soared to 80 percent of GDP from 50 percent.

In Italy's case, it has debts of 2.3 trillion euro, and pays 64 billion every year in interest payments. Should it get into trouble, the European bailout fund would not be able to save the country.

China's president Xi Jinping hopes the two countries can work together on everything from ports to telecoms and pharmaceuticals to football.

But what is at stake? And what will Rome get from the Belt and Road Initiative? Greg Swenson, founding partner of Brigg Macadam, talks to Counting the Cost.

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CBC News 21 Oct 2019 02:39 CEST

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