IMF, World Bank endorse Zimbabwe’s plan to clear arrears -finance minister

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Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Governor John Mangudya listens to questions during an interview in Harare, March 16, 2016. Zimbabwe expects a loan from the International Monetary Fund in the third quarter of this year, the first since 1999, central bank governor Mangudya said on Wednesday. REUTERS/Philimon Bulawayo REUTERS/Philimon Bulawayo - RTSAPED

HARARE (Reuters) – The World Bank and IMF have endorsed Zimbabwe’s road map to clear more than $2 billion in foreign arrears at a meeting in Indonesia on Wednesday, the finance minister said, adding that the lenders had also backed his two-year economic recovery plan.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa has promised to revive the struggling economy, pay foreign debts that the country has defaulted on since 1999 and restore ties with West after becoming a pariah under Robert Mugabe’s near four-decade rule.

Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube, who is attending the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank meetings in Bali, Indonesia, said in a statement his plans to clear the arrears to the World Bank, African Development Bank and European Investment Bank had been accepted.

“All the cooperating partners and creditors present uniformly expressed their support for Zimbabwe and its arrears clearance Road Map,” Ncube said.

The lenders and Western donors also urged Ncube to “judiciously” implement his two-year economic recovery plan announced last Friday.

Ncube’s plan will see cuts on spending and the government’s wage bill and privatisation of loss-making state-owned firms.

Zimbabwe, which adopted the U.S. dollar after hyperinflation left its own currency worthless in 2009, is gripped by acute shortages of cash dollars. Prices of basic goods and medicines have risen in the last few days.

Reporting by MacDonald Dzirutwe; Editing by James Macharia

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