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ECF review mid-March

GWENHAMO—There are positive signs

A team of experts from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) is expected to be in the country between March 11 and 20 for the fourth review of the Extended Credit Facility (ECF) programme, Treasury and the IMF have confirmed.

In an interview, IMF Resident Representative, Farayi Gwenhamo, said the fourth ECF review will be based on performance up to end-December 2019.

“Based on preliminary data, there are positive signs on performance up to end-December 2019. IMF mission in March will make an assessment, taking into account both the backward looking performance and forward looking commitments to reforms and prudent policies, especially on the fiscal front,” Gwenhamo said.

Presenting the mid-year budget statement in Parliament on Friday, Minister of Finance, Economic Planning and Development, Joseph Mwanamvekha, said the programme is on track.

He expressed optimism that the country will pass the IMF test during the coming review.

“The Board of the International Monetary Fund approved the second and third reviews of this country’s performance under the ECF. I am pleased to inform Honourable Members that this led to disbursement of resources to the tune of $43.3 million in December 2019.

“This programme is on track as the targets for end December 2019 were all met. The IMF team is expected to conduct the fourth review in March 2020 and Government is confident that this review will be successful,” Mwanamvekha told Parliament.

The three-year ECF arrangement, valued at about $107.7 million, was approved on April 30, 2018 to support the country’s economic and financial reforms.

Policy priorities of the ECF arrangement include entrenching macroeconomic stability, preserving debt sustainability, and advancing governance reforms while fostering higher, more inclusive, and resilient growth.

Second and third ECF reviews conducted in November last year recommended implementation of structural reforms and measures to improve governance and transparency to strengthen economic outcomes.

It further emphasised on enhancing public financial management through strong cash management, commitment controls, routine bank reconciliations, and transparency in the budget process, investment spending efficiency, monitoring of state-owned enterprises, and debt management.

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