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Zimbabwe Is Implementing Social Protection Measures – Minister

(AFRICAN EXAMINER) – The Zimbabwe’s Minister of Finance, Mthuli Ncube has said that the Zimbabwean government is currently implementing a range of social protection measures while tackling the COVID-19 pandemic.

The minister also stated that the government has lowered taxes on fuel and made changes to its land policy, adding that the government had made significant efforts ahead of embarking on a new programme, including reducing inflation.

Ncube disclosed this on Wednesday in Harare when a delegation from the African Development Bank (AfDB) and representatives of the Zimbabwean government met to discuss his country’s arrears clearance and ongoing partnership between the southern African nation and the development institution.

He outlined the ongoing reforms in the wake of global headwinds such as drought, cyclones, the Covid-19 pandemic and more recently, fuel and fertilizer price hikes.

“Two projects in particular are going well. The first, is an agriculture-based programme which has given relief to two million households and the second is a cash transfer programme, targeting children from poor families”, he said.
Other measures, according to him, included subsidized medical care for elderly people and other vulnerable population groups, and a grain distribution programme for populations in drought-hit areas.

The minister said the government was discussing a new International Monetary Fund Staff Monitored Programme or SMP for Zimbabwe. SMPs are informal agreements between country national authorities and International Monetary Fund (IMF) staff to monitor the authorities’ economic programme.

Ncube further asked the AfDB to increase its private sector window with more capital and long-term funding and said the country would need additional bridge finance to hold interest rates steady.

AfDB’s Vice President and leader of the delegation, Yacine Fal commended the achievements of Zimbabwe’s reform efforts achieved in a short period, adding that continued coordination efforts for the reforms and dialogue with partners were crucial.

You have a very ambitious reform programme and the challenges are many”, she stressed.

Similarly, the AfDB’s Bank’s Chief Economist, Kevin Urama said Zimbabwe’s reforms to its state-owned enterprises were a demonstration of its willingness to advance.

He assured that the African Development Bank’s Africa Natural Resources Centre could provide additional support and technical assistance in land policy.

“Its public finance management academy, which provides a framework for supporting regional member countries in their public financial and debt management efforts, specifically on training, technical assistance and policy dialogue, is another important tool which the Bank has on hand to assist”, he further explained.

Director General for the Bank’s Southern Africa regional development and business delivery office, Leila Mokaddem said the AfDB and other development partners would discuss financial support for an SMP, which in the case of the Bank, could potentially be sourced from its transitional support facility. “Without financial support an SMP cannot work”, she added.

Mokaddem also observed that including the private sector and giving them incentives would be critical.

Chief Secretary to the Zimbabwe president’s Cabinet, Dr. M.J.M. Sibanda thanked the Bank for its corporate governance and procurement reform programme to Zimbabwe through capacity building, monitoring and evaluation, the health sector and $4.1 million in institutional support the AfDB has given for the nation’s state enterprises.

“We succeeded because of the support from the African Development Bank”, he stated.

Sibanda, who chairs a tripartite committee of government, treasury and public services said despite the many challenges, the committee’s immediate priorities in the past months had been to push through reforms in governance and contracts.

Meanwhile, the Zimfund has been an important source of budget support for Zimbabwe in infrastructure and agriculture.

African Development Bank Zimbabwe Country Manager Moono Mupotola said a 10-year programme ending in June 2022 would be replaced with a new fund, expanding to Information, Communication and Technology (ICT) and digital programmes and continued technical support.

“We would like to bring in the private sector, drawing on institutional investors in Zimbabwe such as pension funds”, she suggested.

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