Zambia on track to attain IMF program: Zambian finance minister

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LUSAKA, March 25 (Xinhua) -- The Zambian government on Friday assured that it was on the right track to reach a financing agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) before the end of this year.

Minister of Finance and National Planning Situmbeko Musokotwane said the government was firmly on track to ensure that what has been planned regarding debt relief and attainment of the IMF program become a reality without fail.

"The path the country has taken to get into an economic program with the IMF is the only credible route to arrest the debt situation, is the only credible approach, for now, that will help to deliver debt relief and a return to normalcy," he said in a ministerial statement delivered in parliament.

The Zambian government has remained in constant touch with the IMF so that a full board economic program was reached by the middle of this year, he said, dismissing reports that the talks have collapsed.

The official believed that the resolution of the country's crippling debt situation was paramount to reviving the economy, stressing that there was no way to expect a strong economy as long as the debt situation was not brought under control.

Zambia managed to reach a staff-level agreement with the IMF in December last year after many failed attempts since 2016 which was based on the country's reform agenda.

The southern African nation was expecting to get 1.4 billion U.S. dollars under the Extended Credit Facility over the next three years.

The minister said the staff-level agreement has paved the way for debt restructuring with creditors aimed at bringing the country's debt to sustainable levels.

The government will commence negotiations with all creditors on debt restructuring following the preparation of the Debt Sustainability Analysis that informs the quantum relief the country requires from lenders in order to return to debt sustainability, he said.

According to him, the next step will involve the formation of the Official Creditor Committee composed of the country's creditors who will analyze the debt situation and provide indications of the debt relief they would be willing to provide the southern African nation.

"We anticipate that the Official Creditor Committee will be formed within the next few weeks paving the way for the commencement of the restructuring discussions," he added. Enditem

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