December 17, 2019 / 12:45 AM / a month ago

IMF approves $368 mln loan to Congo to meet 'urgent' balance of payment needs

KINSHASA, Dec 17 (Reuters) - The International Monetary Fund (IMF) board has approved the disbursement of around $368 million to Democratic Republic of Congo, the Fund said on Monday - a resumption of lending to the Central African country for the first time since 2012. The IMF agreed the financial assistance package with Congo in mid-November. It had previously suspended a loan programme after the government failed to provide sufficient details on the sale of state mining assets to an offshore company.

The IMF board approved the disbursement “to enable the authorities to meet their urgent balance of payment needs,” it said in a statement.

Congo’s foreign reserves have fallen to critical levels, due to a “recent fall in commodity prices, new spending initiatives, and looser spending oversight during the political transition period,” it said.

President Felix Tshisekedi took office in January and has sought to repair relations with foreign donors that had frayed during his predecessor Joseph Kabila’s 18 years in power.

Congo is a leading miner of cobalt, copper, gold, tin and diamonds but remains one of the world’s least developed countries, largely due to corruption and poor governance. (Reporting by Hereward Holland Writing by Alessandra Prentice Editing by James Drummond)

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