Congo in discussions with IMF over possible support: PM

PUBLISHED: Thu, 01 Jun 2017 11:32:10 GMT

KINSHASA (Reuters) – A delegation from the International Monetary Fund is in Democratic Republic of Congo to discuss possible financial aid to counter high inflation and rapid currency depreciation, the prime minister said on Wednesday.

The IMF suspended its last financial assistance to Congo – a $560 million loan programme – in 2012 after the government failed to provide sufficient details on the sale of state mining assets to an offshore company.

In an address to parliament, Prime Minister Bruno Tshibala said the IMF might provide balance of payments and budgetary support as Congo grapples with inflation expected to near 30 percent this year and a currency that has lost half its value since last year.

IMF assistance could help Africa’s top copper producer to attract donors who have been put off in recent years by a tense political climate and reports of human rights violations. The IMF representative in Congo declined to comment.

Earlier this year, IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde took the rare step of writing directly to Congo President Joseph Kabila to propose the visit, underscoring concerns about an economy hit over the last two years by low commodity prices.

An IMF delegation last visited Congo in June 2016 as the government petitioned bilateral and multilateral donors for assistance, but those overtures failed amid criticisms of the government’s human rights record.

(Reporting by Aaron Ross; Editing by Edward McAllister and Andrew Bolton)

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