FINANCE minister Patrick Chinamasa has appealed to the African Development Bank (AfDB) to assist the country in clearing its arrears and become part of the global economy.
The country owes multi-lateral institutions and regional institutions over $9 billion. Zimbabwe’s debt to AfDB currently stands at $566 million.
Listen to Alieu Mommodou Ngum executive director of AfDB and Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa below:
Speaking at a Press briefing with executive directors from the AfDB, Chinamasa said the AfDB should play a leading role in securing clearance of arrears that the country have accumulated with the multilateral creditors to be able to enjoy the full benefits of being a member.
“In our meeting I have emphasised that the AfDB should play a leading role in securing clearance of arrears that we have accumulated with the multilateral creditors, as you know they are multilateral creditors alongside the World Bank and alongside the International Monetary Fund.
“Because of their rules and regulations we cannot enjoy the benefits of our membership meaning, we cannot access concessionary borrowings from them unless we clear our arrears. So l have tried to appeal to the bank to come up with a mechanism that will help us clear those arrears.
I am aware they have done it with respect to other countries. My appeal to them they should bend over backwards to assist us so that we become part of the global economy,” Chinamasa said.
He, however, emphasised that the bank should assist the private sector despite that the government was in arrears and also irrespective of their relationship.
“On our part we are very happy to receive them. We feel encouraged that they are visiting our country. We have had an excellent meeting, a very good meeting an exchange of views on our situation and we have briefed them fully on the state of our economy and this is a follow-up meeting from my visit to Abidjan last week were l also briefed on our bilateral relations to some of the executive here.
“We are trying to find a way forward, we were a middle income but we are not there and the problem with us now is to accept where we are. First we have to accept we have challenges in order to move forward, so the challenge we have basically is to move forward,” he said.
The debt overhang has made it difficult for the country to access fresh capital in the past six years.
The country is expected this year in May to discuss issues of debt clearance with the financial institutions.
He added that the total number of the executive directors from the AfDB was made up of 20 people and half of them were visiting Zimbabwe and this was very significant.
AfDB spokesperson Alieu Momodou Ngum said these visits were made annually to regional member states to dialogue with the authorities, to be briefed on the state of the economy and the directions of the developments of the countries and also to see on the ground how AfDB interventions were making an impact on the economy of the regional member state and also to improve the livelihood of the people.
“We have had very good discussions with the Minister of Finance and the governor of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe and they have briefed us on the current state of the economy and I think all of us are going away with new perspectives of where we are and where we are going into the future. AfDB as an African bank has demonstrated that it is a trusted and a dependable partner for Zimbabwe.
“Even during the crisis we were here; with limited resources we provided assistance in water and sanitation and also increasing electricity generation,” Momodou Ngum said.
He said during the course of the visit they would be visiting some of the project sites to see how far AfDB has gone.
He added that there was need to provide assistance to the private sector despite that Zimbabwe was in arrears and was working towards the re-engagement of Zimbabwe with the international community.
“We are also aware that Zimbabwe has a lot of potential and a very skilled workforce, high literacy rate and also has basic infrastructure in place and what we are working on is how to intensify re-engagement with the international community which will release funds to accelerate the development of this country,” he said.