HARARE, (The Southern African Times) – The International Monetary Fund on Friday said it had reached a staff-level agreement with Sudan on completion of the second and final review under its staff-monitored programme, in a step towards debt relief.
A strong performance under the year-long IMF economic reform programme is a requirement for Sudan to reach the “decision point” for debt relief under the Highly Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) process. Sudan is expected to reach that point in June.
“Despite very challenging conditions which are exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Sudanese authorities continue to make sustained progress on their ambitious reform agenda,” said Carol Baker, head of the IMF mission.
The staff-level agreement is still subject to approval by IMF management.
Sudanese Finance Minister Jibril Ibrahim said clearing the second review paved the way for Sudan to be approved for HIPC debt relief “which will hopefully result in a substantial debt relief … as well as new credit lines”.
Sudan is seeking to clear at least $50 billion in debt, mostly with bilateral creditors. Later this month, France is hosting a conference to promote investment and debt relief for Sudan.
The country has recently secured bridge loans from donors to clear arrears on debt with the World Bank and the African Development Bank. A French diplomat indicated last month that France could provide funding for Sudan to also clear arrears with the IMF and proceed with HIPC.
Sudan is emerging from decades of economic isolation and sanctions under former leader Omar al-Bashir, who was toppled in 2019 after mass protests triggered by an economic crisis.