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IMF Downgrades Zimbabwe Growth Forecast for 2010; Sees Economy Flat in 2011

Finance Minister Tendai Biti has revised his own growth projection to 4.8 percent from an earlier forecast of 7.7 percent, blaming continued political uncertainty

The International Monetary Fund says it expects Zimbabwe’s economy to grow this year by only 2.2 percent, downwardly revising earlier estimates for a 6 percent expansion of gross domestic product. The Fund said 2011 growth will likely be flat.

The projections were contained in the IMF World Economic Outlook report released Thursday.

Inflation is likely to be running at 8.9 percent by the end of 2010, falling to 1.9 percent in 2011, the IMF said.

Finance Minister Tendai Biti last week revised his own growth projection to 4.8 percent this year from an earlier forecast of 7.7 percent. Biti blamed continued political uncertainty due to prolonged wrangling among the parties to the national unity government.

Kumbirai Katsande, president of the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries, told VOA Studio 7 reporter Sandra Nyaira the IMF projections make sense.

Meanwhile, comments attributed to Finance Minister Tendayi Biti by state media to the effect that salaries of state workers will stay on hold indefinitely have disturbed civil servants leading representatives of public employees to seek a meeting with public service minister Eliphias Mukonoweshuro.

Tendayi Chikowore, chairwoman of the Apex negotiating council that bargains on behalf of public workers, says she will seek clarity on the government’s position.

Civil servants have asked for an increase to US$600 dollars a month from the current scale topping out at US$200 .

State workers went on strike earlier this year but ended the action due to politicization.

Chikowore told Studio Seven reporter Patience Rusere that after meeting Mukonoweshuro next week, state workers will decide their next move in the dispute.