An International Monetary Fund (IMF) team is expected in the country to meet with the Zambian government next month and resume discussions on the country’s deteriorating economy, according to high-level World Bank official.

Speaking when he paid courtesy call at the Ministry of Finance headquarters in Lusaka yesterday, World Bank vice president – Africa region – Dr Hafez Ghanem, told journalists that a team from the Fund is expected in the country next month to meet and resume its discussions with the Zambian government on the country’s economy.

The courtesy visit paid by Dr Ghanem was a follow-up to his meeting with Finance Minister Margaret Mwanakatwe at last week’s IMF/World Bank Annual Meeting in Bali, Indonesia, and ahead of next month’s International Development Association (IDA) 18 high-level mid-term review meeting, which Zambia is hosting.

Zambia was selected as the host of the World Bank’s IDA 18 high-level mid-term review meeting.

“…Another important issue is the macroeconomic framework because macroeconomic stability is important for economic growth and development. The Minister [Mwanakatwe] described to me the government’s focus on controlling the [fiscal] deficit and on ensuring good and prudent debt management. She also informed me that, Zambia is in discussions with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and that a team from the Fund will be arriving in the first week of November to work with the government on those issues,” Dr Ghanem said.

“So, I have to say that I am really happy to be here with you all; it’s very encouraging to see all the work and advances that are happening in Zambia. I would like to thank the Hon. Minister of Finance for the very kind welcome and also, for the excellent cooperation that we have together.”

Earlier, Mwanakatwe expressed delight at receiving Dr Ghanem, particularly ahead of next month’s indaba.

“To have IDA 18 mid-term review happening in Zambia for the first time in sub-Saharan Africa, for me, I want to say thank you for giving Zambia that opportunity,” Mwanakatwe said in brief remarks, without taking any questions on the ongoing IMF discussions that are widely expected to be on the illusive US $1.3 billion economic bailout package.

Earlier this month, Bloomberg reported that Mwanakatwe is no longer having “sleepless nights” over the much-needed IMF loan Zambia has been trying, unsuccessfully, to secure for the past two years.

“I’ve talked about four things that keep me awake. Four months ago I was saying IMF. I don’t say that anymore,” Mwanakatwe told business leaders after delivering the 2019 budget earlier this month.

“Because IMF, I believe, will come on board at some point — tomorrow or the day after tomorrow.”