September 12, 2016 / 4:40 PM / 3 years ago

Mozambique not opposed to international audit on debt: state news agency

Mozambique President Filipe Nyusi speaks to media during a news conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel (unseen) after their meeting at the Chancellery in Berlin, Germany, April 19, 2016. REUTERS/Hannibal Hanschke

MAPUTO (Reuters) - Mozambique is not opposed to an independent, international forensic audit of its public debt, President Filipe Nyusi was quoted as saying by the African nation’s state news agency on Monday.

The International Monetary Fund, which suspended assistance after a scandal over more than $2 billion in secret loans came to light this year, has insisted on external scrutiny as a precursor to resuming financial aid to what is one of the world’s poorest countries.

Parliament and the attorney-general’s office have launched investigations into the undisclosed borrowing in 2013 and 2014, but the government has baulked at opening up its books to outside auditors.

Speaking on Saturday at a press conference that concluded his visit to the southern province of Gaza, Nyusi was quoted as saying: “At no time has any member of the government said that a forensic audit was not going to be undertaken.”

“What we have been saying is that the cases are already underway at the level of the attorney-general’s office and of the Assembly of the Republic. So the authorities are working,” he added.

The debt crisis and aid suspension has hit Mozambique hard, with its currency, the metical MZN=, losing nearly 40 percent against the dollar since January and economic growth slowing to below 4 percent.

With foreign debt soaring towards 100 percent of GDP, the government has been forced to revise its 2016 budget, which now shows a deficit equal to 11.3 percent of GDP, while the central bank hiked interest rates by 300 basis points in July to try to prop up the currency and contain inflation.

Writing by Nqobile Dludla; Editing by Mark Potter

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