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IMF reaches agreement with Benin Republic to extend its $658 million credit facility

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The International Monetary Fund (IMF), has reached what it termed as a staff-level agreement with Benin Republic on a new 42-month extended credit facility worth $658 million.

In a statement on Friday, the global bank said the extension is intended to help the impoverished West African country address its pressing financing needs related to security, the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine, as well as anchor its national development plan.

“IMF staff and the Beninese authorities have reached agreement on an innovative program – first case under the IMF’s High Combined Credit Exposure (HCCE) policy – to support the economy in the near-term while advancing policies and reforms to foster sustained private sector led growth,” the statement said.

The agreement which is subject to approval by IMF Management and the Executive Board around mid-June 2022, will see Benin having access to borrow from the IMF on more liberal terms, according to the statement.

An IMF team led by Constant Lonkeng, held meetings with Beninese representatives in Cotonou during April 4–13 and in Washington D.C. during April 19–22 to negotiate a new program in support of the authorities’ ambitious policy plans and to conduct the 2022 Article IV consultation. The agreement is subject to approval by IMF Management and the Executive Board around mid-June 2022.

At the end of the mission, Mr. Lonkeng issued the following statement:

“I am pleased to announce that the Beninese authorities and the IMF team have reached a staff-level agreement on new 42-month blended Extended Credit Facility (ECF) and Extended Fund Facility (EFF) arrangements to support the authorities’ economic and financial policies.

“The proposed exceptional access under the ECF/EFF of SDR 484.058 million (equivalent to US$ 658.4 million or 391 percent of quota) seeks to help Benin address pressing financing needs, preserve macroeconomic stability, and anchor the country’s National Development Plan centered on achieving Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

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South Africa’s mining firm, Sibanye-Stillwater, finally agrees wage demands from workers’ union

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After months of industrial engagement, South Africa’s mining firm, Sibanye-Stillwater has agreed on a renumeration increase with the mining workers union.

Sibanye-Stillwater reached an agreement with both the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) and the United Association of South Africa (UASA) on wages and benefits at its platinum group metal operations.

According to a statement by Sibanye, “the company has presented an inflation-linked, five-year offer comprising fixed average annual wage increases of 6% and above for bargaining unit employees for a three-year period, followed by CPI-linked agreements in years 4 and 5, as well as notable increases in benefits.”

A BBC report says some 80,000 gold miners in South Africa went on a strike to call for higher pay, but their union has significantly scaled down its demands. The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) is calling for a 10% wage rise, down from earlier demands for increases of up to 60% for some workers.

Trade unions are recognized within the 1996 Constitution of South Africa, which provides for the right to join trade unions, and for unions to collectively bargain and strike.

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Morocco gets $194 million loan from AfDB to boost cereal output

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In a move that is hoped to boost its cereals production and reduce imports, the African Development Bank has approved a 199 million-euro ($194 million) loan to Morocco.

The AFDB in a statement on Friday said it approved the loan, which is part of the bank’s programme to help boost food security, nutrition, and resilient farming across Africa.

As of the 2019/2020 crop year, the total production of cereals in Morocco amounted to over 32 million quintals. With around 18 million quintals, soft wheat accounted for the largest cereal production in the country that year. Durum wheat and barley followed.

According to foreign exchange data, Morocco’s soft wheat import bill doubled to $1.6 billion compared to the same period last year.

A recent incidence of drought has slashed Morocco’s cereals output by 67% to 3.4 million tonnes this year.

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