MAPUTO (Reuters) – The International Monetary Fund (IMF) is demanding an external forensic audit of Mozambique’s public debt to regain investor confidence after a scandal over more than $2 billion in secret loans, its local representative said on Tuesday.
Parliament and the attorney-general’s office have launched investigations into the undisclosed borrowing in 2013 and 2014 but the government has baulked at opening up its books to outside auditors.
However, the IMF, which suspended assistance when the loans came to light this year, has insisted on external scrutiny as a precursor to resuming financial aid to what is one of the world’s poorest countries.
“It is important to move quickly to an international forensic audit,” its representative, Alex Segura-Ubiergo, said in an interview on Radio Mozambique, the public broadcaster.
“Investors are still interested in investing in Mozambique and this will bring foreign exchange, will bring dollars, but for this we need also the return of confidence,” he added.
The debt crisis and aid suspension has hit Mozambique hard, with its currency, the metical, losing nearly 40 percent against the dollar since January and economic growth slowing to below 4 percent.
With foreign debt soaring towards 100 percent of GDP, the government has been forced to revise its 2016 budget, which now shows a deficit equal to 11.3 percent of GDP, while the central bank hiked interest rates by 300 basis points in July to try to prop up the currency and contain inflation.
(Reporting by Manuel Mucari; Editing by Ed Cropley; Editing by Ed Stoddard)