841122E GOVERNMENT BANS IMF FINANCIAL REPORT
Maputo, 24 Nov (AIM) – The Mozambican government has banned publication of the technical report on the financial assistance from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), according to a report in Thursday’s issue of the independent newssheet “Carta de Mocambique”.
At a Maputo press conference on Wednesday, the head of the IMF mission assessing progress in implementation of the IMF programme with Mozambique, Alvaro Piris, said “the authorities have asked for alterations in the initial report, in a process which is envisaged in the IMF internal regulations. The authorities did not accept the publication and so it is the staff report that will be published, on the first evaluation of the progamme in the coming days”.
“Our policy is clear”, said Piris. “The publication of the technical reports is presumed, but voluntary. Thus, in the final analysis, the authorities can deny their consent to the publication of a report on the country. They have done so, although I admit this is not very common”.
Usually, this kind of technical report contains a letter signed by the authorities (e.g. the head of the government, the finance minister and the governor of the central bank), which gives details explaining the request for financial assistance. The letter is generally accompanied by an IMF report on the needs of the country and another government document, in which the authorities present the economic situation and explain what they intend to do to solve the problem that motivated the request for IMF assistance.
Both documents usually run to many dozens of pages and provide a detailed explanations of the country’s financial situation.
“The authorities expressly did not want it published in the way it would have been”, said Piris. “I can say that I don’t think it’s an economically important matter. It’s more a matter of an internal process and differences of points of view”. But he declined to say what the specific problem was.
“I don’t think it’s in the interests of the international community or of the foreign investors in the country”, he said, as he tried to devalue the ban on divulging documents which inform the request for financial assistance (which include the Debt Sustainability Analysis, which will only be published during the second assessment of the programme, in 2023).
The IMF’s public statements about the mission led by Piris have been remarkably upbeat, failing entirely to mention why the IMF programme with Mozambique had been interrupted for six years.
In 2016, the IMF suspended its programme because of the scandal of Mozambique’s “hidden debts” – the illicit loans of over two billion dollars from the banks Credit Suisse and VTB of Russia to three fraudulent, security-related companies which the government of the time, under the then President, Armando Guebuza, illegally guaranteed in violation of the Mozambican Constitution and of the budget laws.
That has now been quietly forgotten, and proved no impediment to an IMF financial assistance package, approved by the IMF board, under the Expanded Credit Facility (ECF).
Total disbursements to Mozambique under the ECF arrangement amount to about 150 million dollars. The ECF is for three years, and is intended “to support the economic recovery, reduce public debt and financing vulnerabilities, and foster higher and more inclusive growth through structural reforms”.