NEW YORK-- Zimbabwe has asked Britain to help it revive and implement a debt arrears clearance plan, dubbed the Lima Plan, which was agreed with global lenders including the World Bank, International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the African Development Bank (AfDB) in 2015.

Under the plan, Zimbabwe committed to paying off its debt arrears with the global lenders as a pre-condition for accessing new lines of credit, but has so far only managed to clear overdue amounts owed to the IMF and the country still owes the World Bank and the AfDB more than 1.0 billion US dollars in arrears.

Despite committing to paying these off, funding challenges have stalled the Lima Plan and in an effort to see through the plan, President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who is in New York for the 73rd UN General Assembly, met British Minister of State for Africa Harriett Baldwin and asked for London's support at the 2018 annual meetings of the IMF and the World Bank in Bali, Indonesia next month.

We have had a very important meeting with the British government and this is in the context of the re-engagement strategy that we have embarked upon since the inauguration of the President and essentially we looked at three critical areas which are of a national interest, Deputy Chief Secretary to the President and Cabinet (Presidential Communications) George Charamba told Zimbabwean media here.

We looked at the support that Britain can extend to Zimbabwe in the context of the Lima process. You recall that has to do with the multi-lateral re-engagement so that Zimbabwe can again be considered suitable for credit lines from multi-lateral agencies.

There is a way in which British support is actually critical, especially against the background of the forthcoming meeting in Bali which is going to be attended by the Finance Minister we thought that the British could put in a word for Zimbabwe so that those relations can be restored.

Under the Lima Plan, Zimbabwe also has to undertake a raft of economic reforms, including reducing the fiscal deficit to sustainable levels through the alignment and re-organization of the public service. Currently, the government wage bill gobbles up more than 90 per cent of the national budget, which is funded entirely on taxes.

The government is also expected to strengthen and restore confidence in the financial sector as well as accelerate ease of doing business reforms and reduce the cost of doing business.

Charamba said Baldwin had promised to take up the matter with her superiors and counterparts back home.

He said President Mnangagwa had also expressed eagerness to mend relations between the two countries.

President Mnangagwa and Baldwin had also discussed progress made in Zimbabwe's quest to rejoin the Commonwealth.

We also engaged the British in respect of our wish to re-join the Commonwealth. You will recall that the Commonwealth did send an observer mission in the just ended harmonised elections, they had certain benchmarks which they were pursuing and assessing to gauge our suitability to re-join the Commonwealth, happily the report itself is fairly positive and we think the way is open for us to re-join the Commonwealth, he said.