Mozambique: Donors Will Support Fight Against COVID-19 in Kind, Not Cash

Maputo — The group of donors who support the Mozambican Health Ministry intend to provide donations for the country's response to the Covid-19 pandemic in kind, and not in cash, reports Monday's issue of the independent newssheet "Carta de Mocambique".

The donors are already actively procuring ventilators and other medical equipment that could be needed to fight the pandemic.

The list of goods procured include 120 fixed ventilators, which will cost 1.5 million US dollars, and 20 portable ventilators, costing 325,000 dollars.

These figures are rather higher than those given by Finance Minister Adriano Maleiane last Friday. Speaking at a hearing before the Plan and Budget Commission of the Mozambican parliament, the Assembly of the Republic, Maleiane, said the purchase of 300 ventilators will be financed out of the state budget.

He put the cost at 222 million meticais (about 3.3 million US dollars, at current exchange rates), which is an average of 11,000 dollars each. The average unit cost of the ventilators mentioned by "Carta de Mocambique" is just over 13,000 dollars each.

On the list of medical goods procured by the donors are 100 cardiac monitors, 100 intensive care unit beds, 1,000 body bags, N95 face masks, endotracheal tubes, humidifiers, pulse oximeters, and infusion pumps.

So far there are only 21 confirmed Covid-19 cases in Mozambique and no deaths. But if the situation were to deteriorate, then ventilators and other equipment to save the lives of desperately ill patients would be needed.

Among the main donors to the Health Ministry are the World Bank, the United States Agency for International Development (USAISD), the United Kingdom, and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.

That the donors prefer to give their aid for the response to Covid-19 in kind rather than cash is a bad omen for those who hope that any donors will resume direct support for the Mozambican state budget.

A group of 14 donors and financing agencies used to give at least some of their aid to Mozambique as direct budget support. But that came to an abrupt end in April 2016, when the full scale of the scandal of Mozambique's "hidden debts" was revealed.

It became clear that the previous government, under President Armando Guebuza, had illegally guaranteed the loans of over two billion dollars which three fraudulent, security-linked companies had obtained from the banks Credit Suisse and VTB of Russia. Since none of the three companies was viable, repaying the entire amount fell on the shoulders of the Mozambican state.

When this was revealed, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) accused the government of concealing the true extent of the country's indebtedness, and suspended its programme with Mozambique.

The 14 donors who had supported the state budget suspended any further disbursements. In the ensuing four years there has been no direct budget support, and no sign that this form of aid will resume any time soon.

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