IMF urges DR Congo to make transparent all mining contracts

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An excavator clears away top soil layers to create an open pit for artisanal miners to dig for cobalt at a freshly excavated site at the Kasulo township in Kolwezi, Democratic Republic of the Congo, on Saturday, Feb. 24, 2018. So-called artisanal mining is as commonplace as farming in many parts of Congo. Photographer: William Clowes/Bloomberg via Getty Images
FILE PHOTO: An excavator clears away top soil layers to create an open pit for artisanal miners to dig for cobalt at the Kasulo township in Kolwezi, Democratic Republic of the Congo. (Photographer: William Clowes/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

The Democratic Republic of Congo was warned by the International Monetary Fund to make its mining contracts fully transparent if it wanted to gain access any new aid programme.

The comments were made by the IMF’s representative in Kinshasa Philippe Egoume as a years-long disagreement over the mineral-rich country’s mining industry continues.

“We have a disagreement with the authorities, who prefer to publish recent contracts but not the old ones,” Egoume said.

The DR Congo’s mining industry, which is beset by corruption, is managed by Gécamines, the state-owned miner.

The IMF has previously suspended its programme with the DR Congo due to what it said was a lack of transparency in Gécamines’ contracts.

“In our view, all the contracts should be published,” Egoume added.

The extraction and export of the DR Congo’s minerals is handled by joint-venture contracts between Gécamines and a number of foreign businesses.

One of foreign partners of Gécamines is an Israeli billionaire, Dan Gertler, who has been under U.S. sanctions since December 2017 for contracts which Washington says were obtained through “corruption and misconduct”.

The IMF also urged the administration of President Felix Tshisekedi to provide what it called a “realistic budget” for the coming year. The government had forecast a budget of $11 billion in 2020, twice the amount set for the previous year.

Egoume said it was too early to say how much money the next IMF aid programme would involve.

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