IMF, World Bank to visit Zim next week

A high-level International Monetary Fund (IMF) mission will visit Zimbabwe next week after a two-year break to assess the country’s dire economic situation and humanitarian crisis.

In a statement, the IMF said a staff mission led by Vitaliy Kramarenko will visit Harare between March 9 and 24 to conduct a regular review of the economy under the IMF’s so-called Article IV consultations.

The visit by the IMF is not expected to lead to financial aid for Zimbabwe, but officials said it would give the lenders an idea of the direction of government economic policy.

“The IMF mission will review Zimbabwe’s economic situation and prospects and discuss with the authorities their policies to address the acute economic and humanitarian crisis facing the country,” the Fund said.

“The IMF team will work closely with a parallel World Bank mission,” the IMF added.

The visit comes weeks after a new power-sharing government of old rivals was formed between Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe, the country’s sole ruler for nearly three decades, and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, the main opposition leader.

The IMF suspended Zimbabwe’s voting rights in June 2003, barring it from participating in IMF decisions, as the Mugabe government fell behind on paying its IMF debts and the economic situation deteriorated.

“It is an important mission for the Bank, the Fund, for the government and donors,” Michael Baxter, the World Bank’s director in the region told Reuters.

“We’re trying to get a direct assessment of the governments proposed policies, how they are starting to implement them, and how they will lead to a longer-term stabilisation,” Baxter added.

Last week, Southern African finance ministers called on the World Bank, IMF and African Development Bank to help Zimbabwe recover from economic collapse and put the initial financing need at $2-billion.

Under their rules, the IMF and World Bank would not be able to provide financial assistance to Zimbabwe until the country has cleared its arrears to them.

The IMF said it will meet with Zimbabwe’s Finance Minister Tendai Biti and other senior government officials, as well as representatives from the financial, business and diplomatic communities.

A report on the visit will be discussed by the IMF board in early May, the Fund said.—Reuters


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