Washington -The IMF on Thursday announced its first agreement to help Zimbabwe in more than a decade, a key step toward normalising relations after it almost expelled the country for falling behind in debt payments.
IMF managing director Christine Lagarde approved a staff-monitored programme for Zimbabwe to oversee the authorities' economic reform from April through December, the International Monetary Fund said in a statement.
A staff-monitored programme is an informal agreement with the country's authorities that does not entail financial assistance or provide an endorsement by the IMF executive board.
"The SMP supports the Zimbabwean authorities' comprehensive adjustment and reform programme and has been endorsed by Zimbabwe's cabinet, a strong signal of their commitment," the IMF said.
"A successful implementation of the SMP would be an important stepping stone toward helping Zimbabwe re-engage with the international community."
The IMF said its programme was aimed at putting Zimbabwe's public finances on a sustainable track.
At the same time, the programme would focus on protecting infrastructure investment and priority social spending, strengthening public financial management and improving transparency on diamond revenue.
Restructuring the central bank was also on the agenda, it said.
Last October the IMF relaxed its restrictions on providing consulting support to Zimbabwe as the country moved toward constitutional reforms and showed improvement in economic policy cooperation with the Fund.
The restrictions had been set after Zimbabwe fell behind in repayments to the fund. Zimbabwe was deprived of its IMF voting rights in 2003 and nearly was expelled from the Washington-based institution in 2006.
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