Zim mum on debt repayments

HARARE - Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa has remained tight-lipped on the country’s plans to repay its $1,8 billion arrears to multilateral lenders.

This was after the debt-ridden nation failed to meet the June 30, 2016 deadline to repay its debts to preferred creditors — the World Bank, International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the

African Development Bank (AfDB).

Chinamasa, however, remains hopeful that Zimbabwe would be able to secure money soon and settle its international obligations.

“This is definitely in progress since we first announced it, however, I have said we will not been announcing progress through the press … just know it is work in progress. We had a bad situation last year where information we put out there ended up being used against us. So for now, just know that it is all work in progress,” he said.

This comes as Zimbabwe, which recently paid off its IMF $124 million arrears through its special drawing rights with the Bretton Woods institution, proposed an arrears repayment plan at the IMF/WB annual meetings in Lima, Peru in 2015.

A consensus was reached with creditors on a repayment strategy which entailed the clearance of the country’s $1,8 billion arrears by May 30, 2016.

The date was later on pushed to June 30, but the Treasury chief still failed to meet the deadline.

Presently, multilateral financial institutions are barred by law from extending loans to Zimbabwe because of its outstanding debts and clearance of the arrears is anticipated to pave way for lines of new capital.

The World Bank recently said it was ready to work with Zimbabwe once it settles its arrears.

“The Zimbabwe Turnaround Eligibility Assessment Note that was leaked to some outlets is an unofficial draft document that has not been approved by the Bank,” said the multilateral lender in a statement.

“The World Bank will only resume direct lending to Zimbabwe when the issue of arrears is resolved. This approach is standard to all international financial institutions. Upon arrears clearance, Zimbabwe would be eligible as a borrowing member of the Bank to a broad range of financing instruments.”

This comes amid reports that Lazard, which had initially committed to assist Zimbabwe clear its arrears, is no longer providing a bailout package but will provide financial advice following strong resistance in Washington DC.

Leader of the Scottish Conservatives Annabel Goldie said Zimbabwe needs more reforms before it can fully engage with the United Kingdom.

“On the general front, in relation to Zimbabwe’s indebtedness to the World Bank, the UK is party to that organisation and we have made it clear that the indebtedness must be cleared,” said Goldie.

“We have made it clear that there has to be progress on the very type of reforms to which I alluded to earlier.

“We are endeavouring to support the people of Zimbabwe, who are vulnerable and in a fragile condition.”

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