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Economist Research Unit Faults Harare Minister's Rosy Forecasts

The Economist Intelligence Unit has added its voice to the chorus of critics of Finance Minister Herbert Murerwa's 2007 budget assumptions including a recovery in the long-recessionary Zimbabwean economy and an end to the current hyperinflation.

Murerwa said the economy, mired in recession for six years, would return to growth in 2007 with an increase in real gross domestic product of between 0.5% and 1%, while inflation would in his scenario fall to 400% from an annual 1,070% in October.

But senior economist David Cowan of the EIU said that while some economic growth is likely, it will be minimal since the economy contracted by 2.5% in 2006. Cowan said Murerwa is unrealistically optimistic about agricultureal and mining performance.

Cowan told reporter Ndimyake Mwakalyelye of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that he has trouble in particular with Murerwa's inflation forecast.

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