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Uneca tells Zimbabwe to work on debt

by Staff reporter
04 Mar 2024 at 04:44hrs | Views
THE United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (Uneca) deputy executive secretary programme Support Antonio Pedro says Zimbabwe needs to work on its debt to deal with its economic crises.

Currently, Zimbabwe is facing a plethora of challenges around a huge debt overhang, currency volatility and lower export returns on the back of shrinking international commodity prices.

Dealing with the country's debt could help unlock fresh investment for the country because currently international lenders are not lending or supporting the southern African nation.

The need for fresh investment comes as Zimbabwe has a total capital requirement of around US$40 billion.

In an interview with NewsDay on the sidelines of the seven-day 56th session of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa Conference of African Ministers of Finance, Planning and Economic Development in Victoria Falls, Pedro said: "Zimbabwe needs to focus on its debt overhang like other countries. You can also refer to the other suggestions I made for countries in similar troubles.

Currently, Zimbabwe's public debt as of September 2023 was reportedly US$17,7 billion, comprising US$12,7 billion arrears and US$5 billion domestic debt.

However, the European Union envoy revealed that Zimbabwe owed US$18,7 billion in arrears which together with the US$5 billion domestic debt, would put the total figure at nearly US$23 billion.

Treasury's Public Debt Management Office head Andrew Bvumbe told journalists at the conference that they were currently in the process of doing the debt figures as of the end of 2023.

"We don't know what they are yet as we are still working on them, but you have to factor in currency depreciation into the mix," he said.

Finance, Economic Development and Investment Promotion minister Mthuli Ncube also told NewsDay at the Uneca conference that the UN entity was a knowledge bank.

"We have a wonderful relationship with Uneca. Just first of all in organizing the conference. We now have the Zim-Uneca team that organised this conference. It is a seamless team, and they too are pleased. I am pleased with the working environment of the two teams so that is one," he said.

"Two, going forward, Uneca is a knowledge bank, a knowledge institution, a source of advisory services. The one area where we rely on Uneca is actually on implementing our wealth tax which is linked to our property tax. We know they have helped other countries do that such as Rwanda."

He said Uneca was also good in supporting the development of an agro-industrial special economic zone between Zimbabwe and Zambia.

"It's a live project that Uneca is focused on. Uneca will also assist in supporting our national statistics office, Zimstat, in order for us to strengthen and build our stats in various areas. They have got a whole institution in Addis Ababa (capital of Ethiopia) which has got capacity to capacitate us," Ncube added.

Source - newsday