WASHINGTON DC —
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has dispatched a delegation to Zimbabwe to assess progress made in implementing the Staff Monitored Programme (SMP) and seek ways to clear Harare’s ballooning debt.
Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa told The Herald newspaper that the IMF team will conclude its mission November 19.
The SMP for Zimbabwe covers the period April to December 2013. It is an informal agreement between a country’s authorities and the fund to monitor the implementation of the country’s economic programme.
This, however, does not entail financial assistance or endorsement by the IMF executive board. But Chinamasa has indicated that he will try and persuade the IMF to give Zimbabwe financial aid. The IMF is on record as saying Zimbabwe must first clear its arrears before asking for more funds.
The SMP focuses on putting public finances on a sustainable course, while protecting investment and priority social spending, strengthening public finances on a sustainable course, increasing diamond revenue transparency, and reducing financial sector vulnerabilities and restructuring the central bank.
The IMF also wants Zimbabwe to tackle its expenditure on civil servants accounting for more that 75 percent of the national budget.
Economic consultant John Robertson said Zimbabwe has missed its economic targets which he argues are vague.
At the same time, Chinamsa said he expects Zimbabwe’s Gross Domestic Product to grow to 6.1 percent in 2014 from this year’s 3.1 percent.
Mr. Chinamasa is quoted by The Herald newspaper as saying the expected growth will largely be driven by the mining sector, resulting in the country realising $15.5 billion.
Economist and Employers’ Confederation of Zimbabwe director John Mufukare said he does agree with the minister’s projections.
Meanwhile, despite the harsh economic outlook the Consumer Council of Zimbabwe says the cost of living decreased by 0,89 percent last month because of a drop in some basic food prices.
However, the figures are still high when compared to the same period last year when the cost of living was $558.25 for a bread basket. Last month, it was $561.03.
The consumer watchdog said the decrease was recoded in beef which went down by 48 cents to $3.90 per kg, sugar dropped by 9 cents to $1.90 for a two kg packet and cooking oil shed off five cents to $1.70 per bottle.
But Bulisani Ncube, a former regional manager for the Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce, said the CCZ figures are not accurate because there are no economic pointers to show a reduction in inflation.