Zimbabwe asks IMF to release funds for agricultural inputs

HARARE, Nov 27, 2009 (Xinhua via COMTEX) -- Zimbabwe's Finance Minister Tendai Biti has written to IMF asking the international institution to urgently release 50 million U.S. dollars of the over 500 million dollars allocation to Zimbabwe to buy agricultural inputs for the current cropping season, The Herald reported on Friday.

Biti has also outlined how he wants the rest of the money used; a formula similar to that proposed by Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Governor Gideon Gono about two months ago.

The IMF in August allocated Zimbabwe 510 million dollars as part of the institution's efforts to assist member-states weather the global financial crisis that was triggered by a credit crunch in the United States last year.

However, the money was frozen in an IMF account after Minister Biti instructed the organisation not to release any money in what was widely viewed as a personal battle with Gono.

On Nov. 25, Biti wrote to the IMF saying the money should now be released for the purchase of inputs, though government sources said the action is "too little too late".

Biti said the money would only be allocated in the Budget but this past month suddenly saw the urgency of financing inputs procurement when many farmers have already lost hope of getting meaningful yields from the summer season.

Government sources said on Thursday that there has been a sustained and growing campaign to make Minister Biti realise the urgency of the matter.

The sources said the provision of inputs had occupied centre stage in Tuesday's Cabinet meeting after which Minister Biti dispatched the second letter to the IMF.