Zimbabwe creditors meet over arrears clearance, says finance minister

HARARE – Zimbabwe’s creditors will meet on Thursday as the country takes steps towards clearing more than US$6 billion of arrears on its foreign debt, finance minister Mthuli Ncube said.

About 17 countries from the Paris Club of creditor nations will attend, as well as the World Bank, African Development Bank (AfDB) and European Investment Bank, to discuss progress on economic and governance reforms, including compensation to white former farmers, Ncube told Reuters.

Zimbabwe, which has suffered periods of hyperinflation in the past 15 years, had over US$14 billion in external debt as of September, according to finance ministry data. Due to its arrears, it has not received loans from lenders such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank for more than two decades.

The meeting agenda “is part of what is needed for us to walk through the road towards arrears clearance,” Ncube said. “It has really begun in earnest, so I am pleased we are at this stage and we are making very good progress.”

He did not confirm if the meeting was virtual, in-person or a hybrid.

The creditors first met on December 1, facilitated by AfDB president Akinwumi Adesina and former Mozambique president Joaquim Chissano.

Ncube said in October the government had begun making “token payments” to the multilateral lenders and planned to do so to its Paris Club creditors as well.

The IMF said after a visit to Zimbabwe in December that the country would need durable reforms and a clear path to restructuring its debt, including clearing the US$6 billion of arrears, before it could receive Fund money.

Annual inflation fell to 229.8 percent in January from 243.8 percent in December, prompting the central bank to cut interest rates by 50 percentage points to 150 percent. – Reuters

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