IMF team heads to Zimbabwe
By Southern Times Writer
Harare – The International Monetary Fund (IMF) is set to resume its re-engagement with Zimbabwe when a team from the global monetary body visits Harare next week for talks with authorities in the Southern African country.
Economic issues affecting the entire Sadc region are also expected to come under the spotlight during the forum, which has been dubbed Regional Economic Outlook (REO) for Sub-Saharan Africa: Fiscal Adjustment and Economic Diversification.
Zimbabwe is expected to use the platform to get clarity on how it can receive fresh funding from the multilateral institution.
In a statement, the IMF’s resident office in Harare confirmed the meeting, saying the forum will focus on the Sub-Saharan region’s economic issues.
IMF’s African Department Director Mr Abe Selassie is expected to lead the global monetary body’s delegation to Harare.
Said the statement: “Mr. Abe Selassie, the IMF’s African Department’s Director, will be officially launching the October 2017 edition of the REO in Harare.
“The event aims at providing a platform to openly engage and discuss the region’s economic developments with the Government of Zimbabwe, the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, Civil Society, Local Businesses and Development Partners”.
Zimbabwe’s newly appointed Finance Minister Dr Ignatius Chombo as well as the country business leaders are expected to attend the high-level forum.
Zimbabwe and the IMF have been engaging cordially since October last year, when the Southern African country cleared its arrears worth $108 million to the global financier.
The arrears had been due since 2001 and clearance of the obligations gave Zimbabwe a chance to qualify for fresh credit lines from the IMF.
Previously the IMF and Zimbabwe’s authorities have clashed over the conditions attached to funding from the multilateral institution.
In its World Economic Outlook presented last week, the IMF gave positive prospects for Zimbabwe’s economy saying it would grow by 2, 8 percent-an upward of the 2 percent growth which the Fund projected earlier in the year.
But in a press briefing held last month, the IMF’s spokesman Mr William Murray said Zimbabwe needs to implement more reforms to qualify for fresh lending.
“In the absence of financing, the IMF staff is assisting Zimbabwe with policy advice and capacity development.
“The financial sector is of particular focus at the moment, and its current difficulties in securing access to dollars have deeper, underlying causes that need to be addressed, including through financial consolidation, so that the government does not persistently spend more money than it is.
“And also on structural reforms to improve Zimbabwe’s competitiveness and to facilitate capital inflows -badly needed capital inflows.
“The IMF is encouraging the authorities to press ahead with its adjustment, the economic adjustment, and reforms in a timely manner so that Zimbabwe can realize its potential.”
One of the Sadc countries set to benefit from the IMF is Zambia after the Bretton Woods institution in June stated that it may grant Zambia up to $1.3 billion in a three-year credit facility to help plug a budget deficit of around 7 percent.
Created in 1945, the IMF comprises189 countries and it works to foster global monetary cooperation, secure financial stability, facilitate international trade, promote high employment and sustainable economic growth, and reduce poverty around the world.