March 2, 2004

IMF debt will be repaid, says Minister

Zimbabwe will repay its long-standing debts to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to avoid losing membership in the global lender, Information Minister Jonathan Moyo has announced. The statement came after an IMF board late last year said it was initiating the compulsory withdrawal of the economically-ravaged southern African country from the body due to lack of cooperation and unpaid debt. It notably cited arrears of more than 270 million dollars running back almost three years. "What we need to do is to stop the process of withdrawal. If you've got a debt, you must pay," Moyo said. However, he did not say when the government would start repaying the debt. Zimbabwe owes foreign creditors more than four billion dollars, according to official figures. The country is currently in the grip of its worst economic crisis, with inflation at more than 622%, 70-percent unemployment and critical shortages of fuel, medicine and food. As part of a new monetary policy aimed at reviving the economy and attracting investment, the government has said that it will service its foreign debts. Moyo was also quoted saying that the IMF was impressed with Zimbabwean economic reforms and that he was confident the country would not be forced to withdraw.

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