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The International Monetary Fund (IMF), in a brief statement issued on 23 April, welcomed the Mozambican government's acknowledgement "that an amount in excess of one billion US dollars of external debt guaranteed by the government had not previously been disclosed to the Fund". These undisclosed loans first came to light in an article in the "Wall Street Journal" on 3 April. The IMF reacted by suspending a mission due to visit Mozambique, and halting disbursement of the second instalment of a $283 million loan agreed last October from the Fund's Standby Credit Facility (SCF).

Prime Minister Carlos Agostinho do Rosario went to Washington on 19 April for talks with IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde, and with World Bank staff. A technical team headed by the Deputy Minister of Economy and Finance, Maria Isaltina Lucas, also worked with the IMF on the details of the undisclosed loans.

The first official IMF reaction to these talks came on 23 April, when the IMF Mission Chief for Mozambique, Michel Lazare, issued a very brief statement which welcomed "the authorities' extensive disclosure of information which constitutes an important first step toward full restoration of trust and confidence".

Lazare added that "the Fund and Mozambique will continue to work together constructively to evaluate the macroeconomic implications of this disclosure of information and identify steps to consolidate financial stability, debt sustainability and enhance governance and oversight of public enterprises." This sparse statement contained no information on what the government guaranteed debt was spent on. But other IMF officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, told reporters that the undisclosed loans amounted to around $1.35 billion.

This is in addition to the $850 million government guaranteed bond issued by the Mozambique Tuna Company (EMATUM) in 2013. The conditions attached to that bond were unbearable, so the government successfully swapped the EMATUM bond for sovereign government debt, with an extra two years for repayment (up to 2023), but at a higher interest rate (10.5 per cent).

Breaking down the hitherto undisclosed loans, an IMF source confirmed that the state company Pro-Indicus had been lent $504 million by the Swiss bank Credit Suisse and $118 million by Russia's VTB. This confirms a statement by Mozambican Finance Minister Adriano Maleiane that the Pro-Indicus loans are for $622 million.

Reuters managed to obtain a document on this loan from Credit Suisse, which said that the money "was to be spent on high-speed naval interceptors, radar stations, off-shore patrol vessels and aircraft". Credit Suisse refused to comment on the document. This use of the money fits in with concerns about piracy and the safety of offshore drilling operations. Huge deposits of natural gas have been discovered in the Rovuma Basin, off the coast of the northern province of Cabo Delgado, and the drilling platforms and auxiliary vessels require protection.

Also connected with the nascent hydrocarbon industry is a second undisclosed loan, for $535 million which, according to the IMF source, went to "Mozambique Asset Management", another state company which is involved in building the Pemba Logistical Base, in the Cabo Delgado provincial capital of Pemba, to support oil and gas operations.

There was no mention of this company at the ceremony in August 2014 when the then President, Armando Guebuza, laid the first stone for the logistics base. The base has been sub-leased to a consortium in which the main investor is the Nigerian company Orlean Invest, which is already involved in hydrocarbon logistical facilities in Nigeria and Angola. At the time, it was believed that construction costs for the Pemba Logistical Base would be borne by Orlean Invest.

The IMF source also told Reuters that the Mozambican Interior Ministry had borrowed between $130 and $200 million "from an unidentified bilateral lender". Absolutely no details of this alleged loan have yet come to light. Apart from the $622 million for Pro-Indicus mentioned by Maleiane, the Mozambican government has yet to confirm or deny any of these figures.

Source: All Africa