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Zimbabwe pays IMF arrears, first step to restoring lending

21 October 2016, 19:10

Washington - Zimbabwe has paid off 15 years of arrears with the International Monetary Fund, taking the first key step towards restoring its access to international loans.

The country paid off about $108m due to the IMF, and "is now current on all its financial obligations to the IMF", fund spokesperson Gerry Rice said in a statement late on Thursday.

Zimbabwe had been behind in its payments to the global crisis lender since 2001, Rice said.

The move is a positive first step for the country as it tries to stabilise its economy and finances, but does not automatically make it eligible for IMF lending.

It first must have a plan in place to clear arrears to other international financial institutions, the IMF said in a statement. This includes $1.1bn it owes to the World Bank.

The IMF has applauded Zimbabwe's reform efforts under a fund-monitored advisory program that ended in December 2015, which began to restore confidence and stabilise government finances.

But the commodity-dependent country has faced a decade-long crisis, and the IMF warns that without "bold reforms" the economic difficulties will continue.

Zimbabwe adopted the US dollar as its currency in 2009 to end hyperinflation. But the strong dollar has made its exports more expensive.

Unemployment is about 90% in Zimbabwe, which spends more than four-fifths of its revenue in the salaries of civil servants and is ranked by Transparency International as one the most corrupt countries in the world.

- AFP

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