International Monetary Fund (IMF) logo is seen at the IMF headquarters building during the IMF/World Bank annual meetings in Washington, U.S., October 14, 2017. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas/File Photo/File Photo

LUSAKA, Aug 5 (Reuters) – Zambia’s Finance Minister Situmbeko Musokotwane said on Friday that the International Monetary Fund’s executive board was expected to meet at the end of the month to approve a lending plan.

The southern African country reached a staff-level agreement with the IMF on a $1.4 billion three-year extended credit facility in December, conditional upon its ability to reduce debt to levels the fund deems sustainable.

Late last month, Zambia’s official creditors pledged to negotiate a debt restructuring, a move IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva welcomed as enabling the fund’s board to consider signing off on the financing. Read full story

Addressing the same event as Musokotwane, the permanent secretary in the finance ministry said the economy grew 2.4% in the first quarter of 2022 and that the economic environment was expected to improve because of the advanced engagements with the IMF and creditors.

Mukuli Chikuba said government revenue and grant collections were 5.5% ahead of the half-year budget target, while expenditures were 14.7% below target.

The central government’s external debt rose slightly to $13.25 billion at the end of June from $13.04 billion at the end of December, Chikuba said. He added that the government planned to remove inefficient subsidies such as on fuel over 2023-25.

(Reporting by Chris Mfula; Writing by Alexander Winning; Editing by Kim Coghill)