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Zim to host IMF team

Dumisani Ndlela

MONETARY and fiscal authorities are understood to have agreed to host an International Monetary Fund (IMF) mission expected in the country this month, en

ding months of bickering between the two state institutions seen as disagreeing widely over measures to turn around the country’s faltering economy.

The IMF visit, part of Article IV consultations, is routinely conducted on IMF members, but Zimbabwe had been understood to be digging in its heels on the planned visit, insisting its membership to the Fund is only nominal.

The mission’s findings, together with any attempts by the country to clear outstanding arrears, are meant to establish Zimbabwe’s cooperation with the Bretton Woods institution’s demands for an overhaul of economic and structural policies.

The IMF, which upheld a decision to keep Zimbabwe’s voting rights suspended during its board meeting in March, had said it would meet again in September to review the country’s outstanding arrears.

Zimbabwe cleared its overdue financial obligations to the IMF’s General Resources Account (GRA) but still remained with arrears amounting to US$119 million under the Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility (PRGF)-Exogenous Shocks Facility Trust (ESF).

Zimbabwe is however unlikely to win back its voting rights in the IMF.

The country will require a 70% weighted vote of the IMF executive board to restore its voting rights and eligibility to use resources of the Fund, a senior IMF official revealed last week.

This is because it took a similar vote margin to suspend the country’s voting and related rights with the IMF.

Businessdigest, which has reported extensively on the dispute between Finance minister Herbert Murerwa and Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor Gideon Gono over the planned visit, understands that the two institutions are now working on an itinerary for the IMF team that will involve several meetings with central bank and government officials.

Dates for the visit are likely to be fixed in a few days with the agreement of the IMF team, sources indicated.

An IMF spokesperson said no dates had been agreed between them and Zimbabwe’s authorities for the mission but insisted the board meeting on Zimbabwe was still scheduled for the first week of November.

Zimbabwe is anxious to restore full membership rights to the IMF after clearing its outstanding arrears in the IMF (GRA) in February, but sources indicated that the IMF board was likely to maintain present sanctions and rebuke the country for its flawed policies aimed at reviving the struggling economy.

Indications are that recent economic policies had failed to win support of the IMF, suggesting that Zimbabwe could be censored for non-cooperation with the multilateral institution’s demands for broader market-related reforms to take the country out of its economic abyss.

The IMF mission was initially scheduled to have visited the country in early September, the same month the IMF board had determined it would convene to review the country’s membership.

However, Harare administrators blocked the planned mission, partly due to a dispute over policy issues between Murerwa and Gono.

Government and central bank authorities had been unhappy with the pending review, which should have taken place exactly six months after an IMF board meeting that maintained censure on the country after payment of the GRA arrears.

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