Gabon enjoys a per capita income four times that of most sub-Saharan African nations, but because of high income inequality, a large proportion of the population remains poor. Gabon depended on timber and manganese until oil was discovered offshore in the early 1970s. The oil sector now accounts for more than 50% of GDP although the industry is in decline as fields pass their peak production. Gabon continues to face fluctuating prices for its oil, timber, and manganese exports and the global recession led to a GDP contraction of 1.4% in 2009. Despite the abundance of natural wealth, poor fiscal management hobbles the economy. In 1997, an IMF mission to Gabon criticized the government for overspending on off-budget items, overborrowing from the central bank, and slipping on its schedule for privatization and administrative reform. The rebound of oil prices from 1999 to 2008 helped growth, but drops in production have hampered Gabon from fully realizing potential gains. Gabon signed a 14-month Stand-By Arrangement with the IMF in May 2007, and later that year issued a $1 billion sovereign bond to buy back a sizable portion of its Paris Club debt.
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