Zim debt clearance meetings begin

Finance Minister Prof. Mthuli Ncube
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TECHNICAL committee meetings on Zimbabwe’s debt resolution and arrears clearance have started following a break towards last year’s harmonised elections, with high-level meetings set to begin soon, Finance, Economic Development and Investment Promotion Minister Professor Mthuli Ncube has said.

Clearance of the arrears is a vital process that will unlock fresh sources of capital and boost the economy.

Addressing journalists on the sidelines of the 56th Session of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa conference of African Ministers of Finance, Planning and Economic Development underway here yesterday, Prof Ncube said the Government was determined to see the process succeed for the economy to get stronger.

“We have resumed (the meetings) already; we resumed with the usual meetings by the technical committees,” he said.

Some of the technical groups that are meeting have been focusing on governance reforms, and land and farmers’ compensation.

Prof Ncube said the technical groups’ meetings “are going on very well”.

“Of course, we will have the high-level session in the not-so-distant future. We are planning the dates but the conversations are going on in terms of the reform track. As you know, we had a recent visit from the IMF (International Monetary Fund); it was very positive (and) is going to enhance the reform track through the adoption of a staff-monitored programme.

“We must monitor certain targets in the next nine to 12 months. So, things are going on well as planned and we have not deviated at all, and we look forward to a successful outcome. Hopefully, we will look back two years from now and say, ‘what was that’ we resolved our arrears, and then we will be stronger as an economy,” said Prof Ncube.

He conceded that Zimbabwe’s arrears are “probably the biggest albatross around the necks of policymakers”.

Zimbabwe’s consolidated debt amounts to US$17,5 billion.

Debt owed to international creditors stands at US$14,04 billion, while domestic debt is US$3,4 billion. Debt to bilateral creditors is about US$5,75 billion while debt to multilateral creditors is estimated at US$2,5 billion.

President Mnangagwa has appointed African Development Bank (AfDB) president Dr Akinwumi Adesina as the arrears clearance champion, while former Mozambique President Joaquim Chissano is the high-level facilitator on the debt resolution.

In an interview earlier yesterday, head of the Zimbabwe Public Debt Management Office Mr Andrew Bvumbe confirmed that technical meetings were ongoing.

“We took a break during the elections but as we speak now, there is a lot of activity; the technical sector working groups are meeting and we are hoping that we will be resuming at the end of March into early April.

“So, yes, we had a break and there were some issues raised by the creditors and development partners which we resolved through the sector working groups and we are good to go.

“Most, if not all, except maybe one creditor, has suspended participating in the dialogue but the rest are saying let’s go on and we are looking into the issues which have been raised by this creditor and I think we have found a solution to what they want and we are moving forward. We are determined to move forward,” said Mr Bvumbe.

Since late 2022, the Government has been working on a process to resolve the debt and clear arrears with international creditors, including the AfDB, the World Bank and the European Investment Bank.

On June 29 last year, Zimbabwe held the fifth structured dialogue meetings with development partners and creditors as part of efforts to find a lasting solution.

Meanwhile, Prof Ncube said the Conference of Ministers has been going on well thus far.

Yesterday, the day started with a discussion around strategies for financing greener economies, then issues on improving taxation and later a discussion on enabling investment in clean energy resources in Africa to transform the continent.

UNECA deputy executive security Mr Antonio Pedro told journalists yesterday that Victoria Falls had offered them a perfect platform to deliberate on key issues.

The conference is running under the theme “Financing the Transition to Inclusive Green Economies in Africa: Imperatives, Opportunities and Policy Options”.

It started on February 28 and ends on Tuesday. – Sunday Mail