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Consumer Prices in Zimbabwe Post Further Decline in May

Consumer prices in Zimbabwe fell by 1% in May after declining 1.1% in April, the country's Central Statistical Office said Thursday.

The consumer price index reflecting a basket of key goods has dropped by a cumulative 10.5% since the beginning of 2009. The cost of the consumer basket declined 2.3% in January, 3.1% in February and 3% in March.

Economists say the shift to a monetary regimen in which multiple hard currencies such as the U.S. dollar and South African rand circulate - an arrangement that vanquished hyperinflation in short order early this year - has encouraged imports and competition by retailers.

But many Zimbabweans with limited access to hard currencies are struggling to survive.

Economist John Robertson told reporter Blessing Zulu of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that retail merchants and informal market vendors are competing with each other for a scant flow of dollars and rand. But he said the slide in prices could be nearing an end, for one thing because a strengthening rand has been driving up costs expressed in dollars.

More reports from VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe...