Thursday, February 18, 2010

(NEWZIMBABWE) Zimbabwe to get back IMF voting rights

Zimbabwe to get back IMF voting rights
18/02/2010 00:00:00

THE International Monetary Fund (IMF) board meets on Friday at which meeting Zimbabwe is set to have its voting rights restored. Britain and America have said they support the move – a giant step in Zimbabwe bid to repair its battered international image.

And in a statement on Thursday, the IMF said: “Restoring Zimbabwe’s voting rights would be recognition by the international community of policies being implemented by the country's new unity government led by President Robert Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai.”

Zimbabwe’s voting rights were suspended by the IMF in 2003 over policy differences and the country’s failure to meet its repayments.

IMF spokesman David Hawley said reinstating Zimbabwe's voting rights would however not give the government automatic access to IMF financing.

"Access to general resources would depend on Zimbabwe clearing its arrears to the (IMF's) Poverty Reduction and Growth Trust," Hawley added. The PRGT is the IMF's low-cost lending arm for its poorer borrowers.

Zimbabwe's arrears to the PRGT amount to about $140 million at the end of 2009. The government has tried to pay down its arrears through quarterly payments of around $100,000 since May 2009.

Since the creation of the unity government a year ago, Zimbabwe's economy has slowly started to show signs of recovering, with gross domestic product growth at a better-than-expected 4.7 percent in 2009.

In an interview on Feb. 3, Zimbabwe's Finance Minister Tendai Biti told Reuters the United States, Britain and Germany -- three of the IMF's most influential members -- indicated they would support restoration of voting rights.

Samuel Itam, who represents a constituency of African countries at the IMF board, including Zimbabwe, told Reuters he was "cautiously optimistic" about Zimbabwe's request.

He said Zimbabwe should be given the needed support from the international community for progress so far in addressing its economic problems.

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