(Bloomberg) -- Angola’s finance ministry reaffirmed it would offer new fuel subsidies for the country’s agriculture and fishery sectors, saying they were necessary to boost food production.

The ministry was responding to criticism from the country’s tax authority, whose chairman, Silvio Franco Burity, described the subsidies as “unsustainable repeat expenditure” in a report broadcast by the state-run Angop news agency on Sept. 8. Instead, authorities should focus on improving the distribution of electricity, Burity said.

“The government policy on this matter is very clear,” the finance ministry said in an emailed statement Thursday. “This support represents an important stimulus for strengthening the country’s productive sectors.”

In March, the International Monetary Fund, which approved a $3.7 billion loan program for Angola, expressed dissatisfaction with the subsidies and said they contradicted the government’s stated policy of reducing grants.

To contact the reporter on this story: Candido Mendes in Luanda at cmendes6@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Gordon Bell at gbell16@bloomberg.net, Hilton Shone, Jacqueline Mackenzie

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