Bend Over Backwards, AfDB Urged

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FINANCE and Economic Development Minister Patrick Chinamasa has asked the African Development Bank to “bend over backwards” and allow Zimbabwe to access concessionary borrowing as well as assist with clearing the global debt which has become the country’s bane.

Minister Chinamasa made the call in a meeting with AfDB executive directors who are in the country until Saturday where he said Zimbabwe is not a basket case but requires breathing space to build capacity to clear the debt.

Zimbabwe is saddled with a debt in the region of $10 billion of which about $566 million is owed to the AfDB. Because of the international financial institutions’ rules and regulations, Zimbabwe cannot enjoy the benefits of its membership meaning that the country cannot access concessionary borrowing from them unless the arrears are cleared.

“We have to first accept that we have challenges in order to move forward. In our meeting I have emphasised that the AfDB should play a leading role in securing the clearing of arrears we have accumulated with the multilateral creditors. As you know, they are a multilateral creditor alongside the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund,” said Minister Chinamasa.

Ten of the 20 executive directors of the bank are in the country until Saturday to get a briefing on the state of the economy and the direction of the development of the country.

The bank’s executive directors make visits annually to regional member states to dialogue with the authorities and to see on the ground how the institution’s interventions are making impact on the economies of member states and improving the livelihoods of the people. Apart from a plea for assistance with the resolution of the debt overhang, Minister Chinamasa appealed to the bank to allow the country access to concessionary funding and support the private sector.

“So I have tried to appeal to the bank to come up with a mechanism that will help us clear those arrears. I am aware that they have done it with respect to other countries and my appeal to them is that they should bend over backwards to assist us so that we become part of the global economy,” he said.

He said Zimbabwe requires breathing space to build capacity and support the private sector.

“I also hope in the future that we can access their window for concessionary borrowing because that is what we need basically to catch up especially with respect to infrastructure.

“We need to re-engage the multilateral and bilateral creditors so that we can get breathing space. Support to the productive sector and we should be able to pay this debt. If our economy starts performing we can build that capacity,” said Minister Chinamasa.

The AfDB will also visit some farms to have an appreciation of the land reform programme and will confirm a water reservoir in Mutare.

“We hope that at the end of their visit they will pay a courtesy call on His Excellency the President,” said Minister Chinamasa.

“The total number of executive directors of the bank is 20 and half of them are visiting us; so it’s significant. These are the people who make things happen in the AfDB. They decide our fate, so to speak.”

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