Congo, IMF in talks rooted in 'trust', says president

2018-08-15 20:49
Denis Sassou Nguesso (File, AFP)

Denis Sassou Nguesso (File, AFP)

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Republic of Congo President Denis Sassou Nguesso says his government is negotiating "on a basis of trust" with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on the country's financial problems.

Talks on support began last year, but within a few months the Fund called for action on tackling corruption, debt and poor governance before considering any bailout.

"We are negotiating with the International Monetary Fund on a basis of trust and strict adherence to procedures," Sassou Nguesso said in a message to mark Congo's 58th anniversary of its independence from France.

Congo - also called Congo-Brazzaville - "is very far from bankruptcy," the president said.

"We hope to reach an agreement which will contribute significantly to improving the situation of our public finances," he said. The Republic of Congo "honours its commitments as much as its resources allow," he added.

A year ago, the IMF accused Congo-Brazzaville of having hidden part of its debt from the organisation by claiming it was 77% of GDP. According to the IMF's own calculation, the ratio is 117%.

Part of the oil-rich country's troubles have been caused by the fall in the price of oil on world markets.

In December, an IMF mission to Congo said it was concerned about debt sustainability and "significant government weaknesses" in managing public resources. It said it supported plans to create independent anti-corruption bodies.

Talks on financial support would begin "once this work is completed," it said.

Sassou Nguesso, 74, is one of the world's longest serving leaders. He first took office since 1979, staying until 1992, before returning in 1997 at the end of a civil war. He was re-elected in March 2016.

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