By Alois Vinga
GLOBAL financier, World Bank (WB) says it is not ready to assist Zimbabwe through its regular financing channels during the Covid-19 period because of the country’s arrears.
In an emailed response to questions asked, WB said its stance against the troubled country has not yet changed adding that support could only come via other channels.
“Zimbabwe, along with a handful of other countries, is currently in arrears to the World Bank group.
“Support to countries not current on their debt service can be provided through trust funds and partners rather than our regular financing channels,” said the financier.
The remarks however come shortly after authorities in Harare confirmed receipt of US$7 million from WB.
But the bank’s senior management has underscored the support has just been extended through additional trust fund financing to ensure Zimbabwe and the small group of other countries in arrears could respond to the COVID-19 crisis.
“For Zimbabwe, our existing multi-donor Zimbabwe Reconstruction Fund (ZIMREF) technical assistance programme is now focused on supporting the government in the emergency response.
“In addition, US$5 million from the Global Financing Facility trust fund will be used to support their COVID-19 health response,” WB said.
The global financier said other trust funds were being mobilised and details on these programmes were going to be provided soon.
Said WB, “An estimated US$2 million from the ongoing Zimbabwe Idai Recovery Project (ZIRP) will also be redirected towards the COVID-19 response in the affected communities.
“We recognise this is a global crisis that impacts every country and we cannot leave anyone behind in our response.”
WB said over the next 15 months, it will leverage up to US$160 billion in financing including adjusting its existing portfolio towards the health, economic and social shocks countries are facing, including $50 billion of new IDA resources in grants or highly concessional terms.
“As part of our initial operational response, over half a billion dollars in support to COVID-19 response has been approved or already released in Africa,” added WB.