The IMF published the Government of Zimbabwe’s Letter of Intent and the IMF Staff Report for monitoring that began in March and ended 17 April 2015. This is all part of the IMF Staff Monitored Program (SMP) that Zimbabwe voluntarily subjected herself to in 2013. The program is aimed at normalizing the country’s relationship with creditors and mobilize meaningful development finance. Should Zimbabwe meet all the quantitative and structural benchmarks under the IMF SMP this would demonstrate the country’s capacity to repay its debts and could unlock funding from not just the Fund but other agencies.
The government’s commitment to implementing various reforms under the SMP is, therefore, high particularly given the continued challenges in mobilizing development finance and a general choke-hold on the economy. In that regard the SMP becomes an important arena for tracking and monitoring progress with respect to various structural reform commitments.
Of particular interest in the recently published LOI and Staff Report are the points below;
Point 13 in the Staff Report: Authorities expect submitting the amended Mines and Minerals Act, including the fiscal regime for mining, to the Attorney General by end-March, to be submitted to Parliament in the third quarter of 2015. They have already started developing regulations to support the implementation of the amended Act, which would help strengthening the tax regime for the mining sector and improving mining revenue transparency. The authorities have committed to continue publishing the audited financial statements of the Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation (ZMDC).
Point 23 in the Staff Report: In January 2015, the Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment (IEE) Act was amended to include new roles for the line ministries to approve indigenization plans, issue compliance certificates, and monitor implementation. Line ministries are required to define and publish the parameters for their respective sectors. To further clarify the policy, the authorities plan to publish a simplified summary of the law on the Zimbabwe Investment Authority’s website.
It is highly likely that the amendments to the Mines and Minerals Act will be tabled before Parliament before end of 2015 and it is important to monitor and influence this reform process as much as is possible.
There is a commitment to publish the audited financial statements of ZMDC. This is a welcome commitment although its tempered by the fact that the government had (in a letter to the IMF on 3 November 2014) earlier committed to ensuring that the 2013 audited financial statements of ZMDC would be published by the end of 2014. This target was not met.
It is not clear if the new roles for the line Ministries address investor or investor confidence concerns. The IMF Staff report also concedes as much. There remains a lot of confusion in government, the general public and investors with respect to the interpretation and implementation of the Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Act.