IMF to send mission to Zimbabwe in coming days

WASHINGTON  –  The International Monetary Fund will send a staff mission to Zimbabwe in coming days to meet with officials of the new government and assess the country’s fiscal and economic situation, IMF spokesman Gerry Rice said on Thursday.

The regular staff visit to Harare in early December “will update our assessment of Zimbabwe’s fiscal position, foreign exchange developments and inquire about the new administration’s economic plans,” Rice told a news briefing.

Zimbabwe’s new president Emmerson Mnangagwa on Tuesday appointed a new acting finance minister and announced a three-month amnesty window for the return of public funds illegally stashed abroad by individuals and companies..

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Just a week in office, Mnangagwa, has promised to tackle corruption that had become endemic under former president Robert Mugabe’s 37-year rule.

“We stand ready to support the authorities, in their efforts to design policies that can indeed restore stability and growth,” Rice said.

He added that while a concerted international effort to “revive and reintegrate” Zimbabwe’s economy will be needed, a financial assistance package from the IMF can only be possible once there is progress on clearing arrears with other international institutions.

Zimbabwe owes arrears of around $1.8 billion to the World Bank and the African Development Bank. Suffering from decades of decline and hyperinflation as a result of Mugabe’s economic policies, Zimbabwe has not been able to borrow from international lenders since 1999, when it started defaulting on its debt.

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Last week, the IMF’s Zimbabwe mission chief said that the country’s economic situation “remains very difficult” with growth threatened by high government spending, an untenable foreign exchange regime and inadequate reforms. (Reuters)

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