The SDR payments are separate from IMF program financing, which comes with strict policy conditions, and goes into a country’s foreign exchange reserves. To turn SDRs into hard currency, an IMF member must reach an agreement with another member to buy the SDRs.
“The general SDR allocation of SDR 262 million (about $400 million) was deposited to Zimbabwe’s account with the IMF. There is no conditionality on the use of this allocation,” an IMF spokesperson said.
“The special SDR allocation of SDR 66 million ($102 million) will be escrowed until Zimbabwe clears its arrears to the PRGF-ESF Trust,” the spokesperson added.
The SDR, the IMF’s internal unit of account, is made up of a basket of euro, yen, sterling and dollars and each country’s SDR allocation is based on the size of its IMF quota share, which is broadly calculated according to the size of the economy, trade and reserves.
The one-time allocation of SDRS, agreed among the G20 in April to bolster global liquidity, was made on Aug. 28. In addition, a special allocation, equal to about $33 billion (R250 billion), was approved as a way to make the payout more equitable for countries that joined the IMF after 1981.
IMF rules forbid the institution from agreeing to a financing program with a country that is in arrears to the Fund. IMF official figures show Zimbabwe currently owes the institution some $140 million.
The country has suffered a decade of economic meltdown, worsened by the withdrawal of Western funding over policy differences with President Robert Mugabe.
However, the IMF has agreed to technical assistance for the country since the formation of a unity government this year between Mugabe and opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai.
Earlier on Friday, Zimbabwe’s Herald newspaper quoted Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Governor Gideon Gono as saying the IMF had released $400 million to Zimbabwe, with another $110 million (R835 million) set to come next week.
“I can confirm that the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe did receive the funds. I have invited my Minister of Finance (Tendai Biti) for us to discuss the modalities of operationalising usage of these funds,” Gono told the paper.
Gono, Biti and other officials were not immediately available to confirm the Herald report.
In a letter to Biti dated Aug. 24, the IMF’s acting director for the African Department, Mark Plant, said countries with arrears would not receive aid until they had cleared them.
Pic: Infastructure or (lack of)