Mozambique: Is Finance Minister Maleiane Not Correctly Hearing the IMF?

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The IMF is not demanding more information on the secret debt, Finance and Economy Minister Adriano Maleiane told parliament last week (O Pais 17 May). Yet two statements this year by the IMF shows that it is, indeed, still demanding more data.

Maleiane told parliament, "after analysing information we provided, on 21 November 2016 the IMF decided that Mozambique is not on the list of countries that will be penalised for not supplying information. After 21 November 2016, there was no 'secret debt' in the opinion of the IMF; everything was clarified and this information was circulated."

But two press statements this year appear to say otherwise. "The audit has been done but there continues to be information gaps which we think need to be filled," said IMF Africa Director Abebe Selassie at a 21 April 2018 press conference. "What we have said in the past when the program was suspended was that we would need clarification on what happened [but there must be] more transparency on what the resources that were borrowed or used before we can proceed to a program engagement.

There's no program request [from the government]." And on 29 January IMF resident representative Ari Aisen said in a press statement that "the IMF reiterates the necessity to fill the information gaps in the audit report." Which looks very much like the IMF still thinks there is a problem of 'secret debt'.

Maleiane was referring to an executive board decision on 21 November 2016 to consider "Mozambique's misreporting", which found that "Mozambique had breached [its] obligation as the authorities had reported inaccurate data" with respect to debt stocks. The board confirmed that the IMF loan under Policy Report Instrument would remain stopped. The final statement said: "Executive Directors did not to require any further action but called on the authorities to implement the announced measures in a comprehensive and timely manner." The "announced measures" were the independent audit and a criminal investigation.

The key phrase here is that there would be no "further" action if the audit and criminal investigation done acceptably and quickly. Both press statements this year make clear the audit is not yet acceptable. Which suggests that Maleiane may be misreading the November 2016 executive board decision.

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