Mozambique

Mozambique says days of squandering aid over

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By Manoah Esipisu

SIRTE, Libya, July 6 (Reuters) - Mozambique President Armando Guebuza, whose country will win more than $2 billion in debt write-off under a plan by rich nations, said on Wednesday the days of squandering foreign aid were over in Africa.

In an interview with Reuters after an African Union summit in Libya, Guebuza urged wealthy countries to put their faith in what he said was a new Africa prepared to confront its problems and keen to invest in fighting poverty.

"There are those who do not see that we can define strategies of our own to grow our economies and they only see what they think are wrongs of the continent and say it is the way of the African to be wasteful or corrupt," Guebuza said.

"The days of squandering aid are over," he told Reuters ahead of a summit of the Group of Eight industrialised countries in Scotland, adding that close government monitoring of donor funds would help ensure it reached the intended recipients.

Donors needed to streamline their own accounting practices to beat bureaucratic delays that slowed the flow of cash to help the poor, added the president, a wealthy former businessman.

Guebuza saw himself as a symbol of good governance emerging on the continent, having taken over as head of state and government from Joaquim Chissano, who retired from office after last year's presidential and parliamentary elections.

Mozambique, a model pupil of World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) reforms, has grown by an average of 10 percent over the last decade. Market reforms in the former Marxist country have attracted big business in mining and energy, the pillars of the country's growth.

The country was among those to benefit from a $40 billion debt relief deal agreed last month. But Washington and others oppose a more ambitious plan -- an International Finance Facility which could raise an extra $50 billion in aid up front by issuing bonds using future development budgets as collateral.

For Mozambique, Guebuza said gains of debt relief and additional aid would go to building schools and providing teachers, water, sanitation and health.

Fighting chief Mozambique killers malaria, tuberculosis and AIDS through the supply of life-prolonging anti-retroviral drugs were key priorities, he said.

"What we are going to do with the additional money is plug the gaps especially in the social sectors," he said.

"There is a lot of work to be done and I am glad to say we are up to the task," he said, adding that the debt forgiveness would be seen in continued stability and growth of the economy of this country of 18 million people over the next few years.

Reuters - Thomson Reuters Foundation
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