- Authorities in Central African Republic must be filled with joy upon hearing that their country has met the criteria for receiving financial assistance of the African Development Bank's (ADB) Post Conflict Country Facility. Donor pledges to help the country up on its financial feet again so far had never materialised, spurring conflict after conflict.
The African Development Bank (ADB) and its associated African Development Fund (ADF) today decided to lift the ban on the Central African Republic. The bank approved US$ 23.5 million for the country to clear its arrears and also expressed its commitment to lift sanctions on the country as soon as it has received evidence of donor irrevocable financial commitments.
According to ADF statutes, countries that experience conflicts have their sanctions lifted, provided they observe peace, strive to establish good governance structures, including sound legal and judicial systems, resume normal economic activity as well as fastrack resettlement, disarmament and reintegration.
According to a statement issued today, financing arrangements for this operation had been concluded based on a tripartite burden-sharing strategy between the country, which has already paid its contribution of 1 percent - approximately US$ 474,000 - and the donors pledging to contribute 49.5 percent and the ADB's post-conflict programme contributes the remaining 49.5 percent.
The arrears clearance operation seeks to assist the Central African Republic in renewing relations with the donor community and securing future assistance under the Highly Indebted Poor country (HIPC) Facility in order to return to a sustainable debt situation.
Assistance from the ADB's post-conflict programme was said to be "a key stage in the global reengagement process aimed at normalising the country's relations with its development partners for full resumption of their normal activities," according to the bank.
This arrears clearance operation entails exceptionally favourable treatment in the case of the Central African Republic, taking into account the unique aspects of the country's situation, which is marked by serious economic and financial difficulties.
Over the years, the Central African Republic has been recording protracted economic decline, chronic budget deficit, unsustainable debt level and extreme poverty, among others. Political instability and armed conflict have been directly spurred by the country's economic problems - but donors and financial institutions shied away from the country due to risks of further conflict, thus deepening the economic crisis and thus the conflicts.
The agreement between the ADB, donors and the Bangui government thus could be vital to end this vicious spiral. The ADB seems to have found a key to assist the Bangui government by saying the Central African Republic had met the five criteria to be defined as a post conflict country.
"It has made significant progress in restoring peace, improving economic and political governance and reviving economic activity, as well as in the disarmament reinsertion and resettlement of displaced populations," the ADB maintained. "It is also classified as a post-conflict country under stress by the World Bank and the IMF respectively."
The country therefore also would be eligible for debt reduction under the HIPC initiative as well as satisfactorily undertaking structural and policy reforms in coordination with the international financial institutions and the donor community - given that this initial project proves successful.
The ADB further held that the Central African government had honoured its commitment to finance its arrears to the Bank and had collaborated in mobilising adequate resources from donors to wrap up the financing of the clearance operation. "Considering its current situation and the government cash projections, the country is considered to have made maximum efforts in paying its share of the proposed operation," the Bank found.
Also during the last few months, war seemed to return to troubled country. The Central African Republic had been at war with rebels that were bent on cracking the military strength of the government but thanks to the late support from France, the rebellion has been quenched during the last few weeks.
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