Thursday, May 15, 2008

(HERALD) RBZ sets the record straight on AfDB debt

RBZ sets the record straight on AfDB debt
Herald Reporter

THE Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe yesterday refuted claims that Zimbabwe had paid US$700 million debt to the African Development Bank. In a statement, which was widely quoted by the international media, AfDB had claimed that Zimbabwe had cleared US$700 million of its AfDB debt but the bank later reduced the figure to US$650 000.

However, RBZ said the Government had continued to raise foreign currency to support the economy but such efforts were still to result in multilateral and bilateral creditors taking over Zimbabwe’s debts.

"Although, as a central bank, we are closely working with the Ministry of Finance with several rods in the fire to raise foreign exchange resources to support the economy, such efforts have not as yet resulted in multilateral or bilateral creditors and/or donors disbursing funds or taking over our debts," RBZ Governor Dr Gideon Gono said in a statement.

On Monday afternoon, AfDB posted a statement on its website saying Zimbabwe had paid US$700 million of its debt to the bank and most news agencies wrote stories from the statement.

The Herald also picked the statement in which AfDB hailed Zimbabwe for being committed to meeting its international financial obligations despite the current economic problems caused by the illegal sanctions imposed by the West.

However, AfDB corrected the figures on the earlier statement late on Monday night.

In the correcting statement also posted on its website, the AfDB said Zimbabwe had last month paid US$500 000 to the bank and US$150 000 to the bank’s subsidiary lender, African Development Fund.

"Zimbabwe has, in all, paid 650 000 (US) dollars to the Bank Group despite numerous economic challenges currently facing the country, both globally and locally," the statement said.

Dr Gono said if Zimbabwe had such resources (US$700 million), the central bank would have prioritised the importation of grain (maize and wheat); fuel, electricity, medical drugs, industrial chemicals, fertilizers, seeds, water treatment chemicals, agricultural equipment, and other infrastructural development essentials and leaving some for debt service.

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