AfDB to help clear Zim debt

HARARE – THE  African Development Bank (AfDB) has stepped in to assist Zimbabwe clear its debt with the continental creditor, the southern African nation’s finance minister Patrick Chinamasa said on (today) Tuesday.

Addressing a press conference in Harare, Chinamasa said representatives of the continental financial institution were in the country to discuss Zimbabwe’s strategy to “clear our debt arrears with the three multilateral financial institutions [the AfDB, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank]”.

Zimbabwe owes the AfDB as much as US$601 million.

Chinamasa said the country had successfully implemented and met targets, with the IMF last week commending the progress made so far by the country. IMF head of mission Domenico Fanizza said in a report last week that Zimbabwean authorities had “moved forward with the reform programme despite increasing economic and financial difficulties”.

Chinamasa said the AfDB had set aside a grant to assist Zimbabwe after they had convinced the “preferred creditor to demonstrate leadership in the unfolding strategy to ensure that Zimbabwe is able to clear its arrears”.

“They have set aside some funds to assist Zimbabwe in clearing the arrears. The amount is yet to be determined by the board. They have assured us that these funds will be available until the end of December 2016,” Chinamasa said.

The grant was meant only to clear out AfDB arrears.

The Treasury chief said they could clear the arrears by December this year, an indication Zimbabwe could be getting a grant in the region of US$600 million.

Sibry Tapsoba, the AfDB director in charge of fragile states, said they had been reassured about Zimbabwe’s arrears clearance strategy by documents now in their possession.

“This is a significant step and in the right direction. We are here to show Zimbabwe of the commitment of the AfDB to continue assisting the country in clearing its arrears,” Tapsoba said.

“The level of resources will be decided after we go back to Abidjan [Ivory Coast]. We have reassured the finance minister that we have the resources to do so.”

Zimbabwe has external debt of US$10 billion. – ANA