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World Bank Pledges US$22 Million to Zimbabwe; IMF Technical Team Arrives

The World Bank on Monday promised Zimbabwe a US$22 million grant for unspecified projects - but said at the same time that the country will have to clear its large arrears with the multilateral institution before it can qualify for further assistance.

Zimbabwe's World Bank arrears total some US$640 million and the country also has arrears to the African Development Bank of around US$460 million, plus debt arrears of US$133 million to the International Monetary Fund for a total of more than US$1.2 billion.

World Bank officials did not specify where the US$22 million grant would go – but information on the World Bank Web site suggests the money could fund analytical work not unlike the technical assistance an IMF team launched this week, or health care services.

Harare-based independent economist John Robertson told reporter Patience Rusere of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that the World Bank grant signals that the international community recognizes the country’s “desperate” need for funds to jump-start the economy.

Elsewhere, Germany pledged 10 million euros or about US$13.5 million for water purification, civil service training and development, and improved statistical reporting.

More reports from VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe...