Mozambique: Assembly Plenary to Debate Debt in June

The Mozambican parliament, the Assembly of the Republic, will meet in a two day extraordinary sitting next month to debate the country’s public debt, which stood, at the end of 2015, at 11.64 billion US dollars.

Speaking to reporters on Monday, the spokesperson for the Assembly’s governing board, its Standing Commission, Mateus Katupha, said the debt was the only item on the order paper for the session, which will be held on 8-9 June.

The debate will centre on a report drawn up by two of the Assembly’s working commissions – the Plan and Budget Commission and the Defence, Security and Public Order Commissions. Last week the two commissions held a joint hearing on the debt with finance minister Adriano Maleiane who optimistically claimed that the debt was still sustainable.

The debt ballooned in 2013-2014, the final two years of the governance of President Armando Guebuza. In that short period, over two billion dollars was added to the country’s foreign debt in the shape of three commercial loans, guaranteed by the government, and taken out by state companies in which the main shareholder is GIPS, an institution which is run by the State Intelligence and Security Service (SISE).

Before April of this year, only one of these loans had been declared, either to the Mozambican public, or to the country’s international partners, notably the International Monetary Fund (IMF). This was the 850 million dollars borrowed by the Mozambican Tuna Company (EMATUM), for the purchase of 24 fishing vessels, and six patrol boats. It was subsequently discovered, after the boats were paid for, that, despite being made in a French shipyard, they do not meet European Union specifications, and so the tuna they cash cannot be sold in the EU.

The two other loans were to Proindicus, a company that is supposed to provide maritime security (622 million dollars), and Mozambique Asset Management, MAM (535 million dollars). This latter company is supposed to operate shipyards in Maputo and the northern city of Pemba for repair and maintenance of the EMATUM and Proindicus boats, and for any other vessels that may need such services.

But there is no sign that MAM has acquired the promised assets or is in any position to provide services. It has just missed the deadline of 23 May to make its first repayment (of 178 million dollars).

Katupha said that the report from the two commissions had already been distributed to all 17 members of the Standing Commission. All three parliamentary groups – of the ruling Frelimo Party, the rebel movement Renamo and the opposition Mozambique Democratic Movement (MDM) – agreed that the government must address the full parliamentary plenary about the debt, despite the expenditure involved in holding an extraordinary sitting.

Renamo had demanded on 12 April that the government be summoned to parliament to explain the undisclosed loans, but this was just the day before the Assembly was due to suspend its ordinary sitting for more than two months.

The Frelimo majority threw out the Renamo request, and the head of the Frelimo group, Margarida Talapa, said it was more important to discuss the disarming of Renamo. “Let the government work. Hand over the guns and stop killing people”, she declared.

But the Frelimo Central Committee, which met during the ensuing four days, disagreed with the parliamentary group, and insisted on the urgency of the government explaining the public debt.

Source: Agencia de Informacao de Mocambique