Mozambique: PM Answers Questions On Illegal Debts

Maputo — Mozambican Prime Minister, Carlos Agostinho da Rosario, said in Maputo on Wednesday that the latest developments in relation to the scandal of the country's "hidden debts" bring new elements that must be taken into consideration in the government's interaction with creditors with other international institutions.

He was speaking at a question and answer session in the Mozambican Parliament, the Assembly of the Republic. He was answering in particular a question from the parliamentary group of the Mozambique Democratic Movement (MDM) which asked whether the government will continue restructuring the illegal debts owed by the fraudulent companies, Proindicus, Ematum (Mozambique Tuna Company) and MAM (Mozambique Asset Management). Will the country pay these debts?, insisted MDM.

Rosario said that the current lawsuits in Mozambique and in the United States against those responsible for the debts are producing new information that must be taken into account in any negotiation with creditors.

He added that, in order to safeguard national interests, the Attorney General's Office (PGR) had approached the High Court in London, in an attempt to cancel the sovereign guarantee associated with the Proindicus debt.

He stressed that the government has not been paying any of the Ematum, Proindicus and MAM debts since mid 2016. Nonetheless the government has been negotiating with the creditors in an attempt to find solutions that will safeguard Mozambique's interests.

Opposition parties and much of Mozambican civil society are calling for the outright cancellation of the debts, on the grounds that they were contracted illegally.

Rosario told the Assembly, "the only foreign debts the government has been paying are the bilateral and multilateral debts, that is the debts contracted from other countries and from financial institutions of which we are members, such as the World Bank and the African Development Bank."

He recognised that Mozambicans are concerned about the debt, but stressed this "should not divert us from our main focus which is the maintenance of peace and the implementation of the government's five year programme, in order to ensure continued improvement in living conditions."

The PGR has announced it has a list of 21 suspects in the investigations into the illegal debts, 12 of whom are under preventative detention. These include the former head of the Security and Intelligence Service (SISE), Gregorio Leao, the former head of SISE economic intelligence, Antonio do Rosario (no relation) who was the chairperson of all three fraudulent companies, Ndambi Guebuza, eldest son of former President Armando Guebuza and Ines Moiane, Guebuza's former private secretary.

In response to an arrest warrant issued by the United States, former Mozambican Finance Minister Manuel Chang is under Police custody in South Africa, fighting extradition to New York.

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