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Tajikistan: National Bank Admits Lying To IMF To Secure Loans

  • Bruce Pannier

http://gdb.rferl.org/631f9087-d4ae-4a92-b452-f18e2890e1be_w203.jpg --> http://gdb.rferl.org/631f9087-d4ae-4a92-b452-f18e2890e1be_mw800_mh600.jpg (RFE/RL) The new chief of the National Bank of Tajikistan has admitted that the bank intentionally gave incorrect information to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in order to secure essential loans worth nearly $48 million.


"We have to support the agricultural sector somehow, and this was one of the ways to support it," said Sharif Rahimzoda. "As of today, the Tajik National Bank will no longer engage in such [dishonest] activities."


Rahimzoda replaced Murodali Alimardon in January. Alimardon had been in charge of the bank for 13 years and headed it when the false information was given to the IMF. Tajikistan is in the process of repaying the loans in question.


Many in Tajikistan believe that international lending organizations like the IMF will now be reluctant to give money to Tajikistan, one of the world's poorest countries.


Luc Moers, the IMF resident representative in Tajikistan, allayed some of those fears last week when he said the IMF will continue to help the country and work with the bank's new leadership.


"And I would again like to stress that the IMF will remain very actively involved in Tajikistan," Moers said. "My cooperation with Mr. Rahimzoda personally has been excellent. I would remind you that he, of course, was only appointed very recently, and he had to deal with this difficult topic right away."


The Asian Development Bank, among others, has also said the deception by the National Bank will not affect future loans to Tajikistan.


But officials in almost every international lending organization are using this opportunity to warn Tajikistan about corruption within the government and to ensure complete transparency in its financial dealings. The organizations stress that without improvement in such areas, Tajikistan risks scaring away badly needed foreign investment.


Tajikistan is coming off one of its worst winters in decades. Winter crops were ruined by heavy snow and weeks of below-freezing temperatures. Now, that melting snow is threatening to cause massive floods and devastating damage to the country's spring crops.


Tohir Safarov of RFE/RL's Tajik Service contributed to this report

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