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Zimbabwe authorities differ over funds

HARARE, Sep 23 – Zimbabwe’s central bank chief on Wednesday accused Finance Minister Tendai Biti of stalling the distribution of 510 million dollars received from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in August.

Last week, Biti said the funds would be used to rebuild the country’s crumbling infrastructure, while central bank boss Gideon Gono wants the money to be poured into mining and manufacturing as well as public entities.

"It is necessary to once again point out that precious time is running out, whilst we are theorising and allegedly planning for weeks and months on how to use funds that are readily available for government’s use," Gono said in a statement.

The Movement for Democratic Change, of which Biti is deputy leader, has wanted to replace the close ally of President Robert Mugabe as central bank chief since forming a unity government with Mugabe in February.

Gono has tried to claim credit for winning the funds, which form part of a global scheme that the IMF offered to all of its members. The IMF says the funds are under the control of the finance ministry.

Biti is insisting that the funds will only be distributed once the national budget has been approved by parliament.

"These funds are going to be part of Zimbabwe’s budget provisions," Biti was quoted as saying by the state-run Herald.

"I can’t break the law, I am a lawyer. These funds are not a substitute for fiscal prudence and fiscal wisdom," said Biti, who is expected to present his annual budget in November.

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Zimbabwe has not received any financial assistance from the IMF in over a decade, due to its long outstanding debt with the agency.

The crisis ridden country owes the IMF 130 million dollars.

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