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Zimbabwe FM Biti Projects 6-7% Growth in 2009 Versus IMF's 3.7% Forecast

Zimbabwean Finance Minister Tendai Biti has said he expects the economy to grow by 6% to 7% this year, a considerably more bullish forecast than the 3.7% expansion of gross domestic product the International Monetary Fund recently projected.

Biti issued his forecast at the IMF annual meeting in Istanbul this weekend, offering an even more optimistic projection for 2010 during which he said economic growth could throttle up to a 15% pace as unused capacity comes on line and state assets are sold.

Biti said prices could fall 7% this year. Consumer prices declined a cumulative 8.5% through August as dollarization vanquished hyperinflation and import competition imparted a disinflationary impulse through the first five months of this year.

VOA could not immediately reach Biti for details on his economic view. Economic Planning Minister Elton Mangoma declined to comment on Biti's projections.

Economist Prosper Chitambara of the Labor and Economic Development Institute of Zimbabwe said he thinks Biti's predictions are too optimistic considering the country's precipitous decline in recent years and weak foreign direct investment.

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