No IMF Deal Yet, Says Mutati

felix-mutati-zambia-reportsFinance Minister Felix Mutati says government has not yet hosted any detailed programme discussions with the IMF and there are no preconditions.

Delivering a Ministerial Statement in parliament, Mutati said the IMF team that is in the country is here on a monitoring mission.

“The IMF are here this week on a monitoring mission to discuss the economic situation and for us to start presenting to them our economic recovery programme. We expect them to return for programme discussions later,” he said.

“May I inform the house that before any programme details are agreed upon, cabinet and other economic stakeholders will be consulted and any final agreement, if appropriate, would be expected in the first quarter of 2017.”

Mutati said the IMF no longer imposed conditions without the consent of the recipient and urged the country not to shy away from help.

He said as part of the economic recovery programme government will prioritize the dismantling of arrears owed to contractors to help companies meet their obligations and sustain their operations.

Mutati said retaining budget credibility was a matter of concern with variations usually as high as 25%.

“This cannot continue given that the discretionary budget is only around 2% of domestic revenues,” he said.

Mutati said the removal of subsidies will be cushioned by investment into the social sector by government.

He said the external reserves have dwindled from US $3.9 billion to US $2.3 billion.

Mutati said the slow economic growth was largely due to low international commodity prices in 2016 and adverse weather conditions linked to El Nino weather system over two agricultural seasons.

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