EIB to open new credit lines

HARARE - The European Investment Bank (EIB) will next year open new lines of credit to Zimbabwe’s banking and private sector, a top European Union (EU) envoy has said.

EU Ambassador to Zimbabwe Philippe Van Damme yesterday said a technical team from the European Union financial services was currently in the country assessing the private sector to identify viable projects and financial institutions to avail fresh capital to.

“A delegation is in the country as we speak, assessing the private sector to see the areas and sectors to invest in.

“At the moment, it is still too early to determine how much will be availed, especially to the financial sector as the board will meet in the first quarter of 2016 to determine this,” he said.

The latest visit by the EIB officials is a second one this year.

During the first visit earlier in the year, EIB officials met Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa, the central bank governor John Mangudya and several players in the private sector with special emphasis on the financial services sector.

Van Damme was, however, quick to point out that the country, saddled with a $10 billion debt, did not qualify for any direct funds from the bank.

“We are pleased with Zimbabwe’s debt reform strategy and hope the country will be able to meet the promises made in Lima.

“The bank is looking forward to working with the Zimbabwean private sector,” Van Damme said.

This comes after the European trading bloc last year lifted sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe 13 years ago on allegations of human rights abuses.

The move paved way for the union to resume aid to hard-pressed Zimbabwe. Earlier this year the EU gave Zimbabwe $270 million in development assistance, with most of the money expected to fund numerous projects which include health and the constitutional alignment.

In an effort to revive the country’s ailing economy, Zimbabwe recently held meetings with the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank in Lima, Peru where the country pitched its arrears clearance strategy.

Chinamasa recently indicated plans of promoting the EIB to preferred creditor status, which will see it as a priority creditor whose outstanding dues may be paid soon after April 2016.

The EIB is owned by the 28 EU countries and borrows money on the capital markets and lends to the EU and in neighbouring or developing countries.

Last year, Deiderick Zambon, Division Chief for the EIB southern Africa and Indian Ocean division, said the bank had interests in the private sector, when the delegation came for its preliminary mission.

Zambon also said the country was not going to get preferential treatment in terms of the re-payment of a $300 million loan owed to the bank.


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