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Zimbabwe Finance Minister To Use IMF Cash To Fund Infrastructure Projects

Zimbabwe has set aside $110 million from an account at the International Monetary Fund to finance priority infrastructure projects such as water circulation, sanitation facilities and energy development

Zimbabwean Finance Minister Tendai Biti has set aside $110 million from the country's Special Drawing Rights account at the International Monetary Fund to finance priority infrastructure projects such as public water supplies and energy development.

Biti told reporters on Wednesday: "As we are sitting here, there is a typhoid attack in Harare. It is important that we rebuild Harare's water and sanitation capacity."

Health officials said at least 600 residents have been treated for typhoid, which is linked to poor sanitation, amid fears the bacterial disease may be spreading.

The finance minister said he set aside $20 million for agricultural support and $30 million for lines of credit to the struggling manufacturing sector.

“The preliminary annual statement of financial performance for the year ended 31 December 2011 indicates total revenue at US$2,921 million and total expenditure at US$2,891.6 million, resulting in an overall 2011 budget surplus of US$30.4 million.”

“This outturn allowed for Government to post a small positive opening balance which became available for supporting budget expenditures in January 2012, mainly salaries and pension payments, at a time when revenue inflows are seasonally low.”

Biti said the Treasury will give regular updates of all macro-economic indicators and vitals to allow government, business, labor and all other stakeholders to plan.

“Treasury will, therefore, be providing periodic communication on major developments within the economy...each month, I will be providing a monthly budget dashboard that will outline monthly budgetary developments, tracking in particular, budget performance in key areas of public sector investment and social delivery.”

Economic analyst Masimba Kuchera said Biti’s latest statement is encouraging and he welcomes the monthly economic and financial updates. "I think that will be an important periodic information tool and if he manages to do that religiously and consistently I think that should be a plus in terms of people knowing what’s happening with state resources.”

Kuchera said it is also a positive move by the minister to plow funds back into the manufacturing, agricultural and energy development.

“If you deal with energy sufficiently to ensure that Zimbabwe has good power supply it will ensure that industry is always operating,” Kuchera said.

Rolling blackouts are commonplace in Zimbabwe where the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Company is unable to generate anywhere near enough power to meet demand.