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Zimbabwe Prime Minister Tsvangirai Calls for Political Consensus to Fuel Growth

Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai told business leaders that although Zimbabwe has made progress toward economic stabilization in the past 17 months, political discord stands in the way of sparking more robust economic growth

Zimbabwean Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai told a business audience in the Midlands province capital of Gweru this week that although the unity government in Harare has made progress on economic stabilization, it has not been able to spark robust economic growth due to political discord and the lack of a shared national vision.

Mr. Tsvangirai called for business and labor to exercise restraint on prices and wage demands until the economy has developed greater momentum, VOA Studio 7 correspondent Taurai Shava reported.

Elsewhere, Finance Minister Tendai Biti has announced that the government will set up a debt management office to manage and over the longer term clear the country's US$6.7 billion international debt. The debt office will mobilize resources and engage creditors like the International Monetary Fund and World Bank, he said.

Some economists welcomed the proposal, though others warned against creating another layer of bureaucracy as the most important task at hand is to improve the country's investment environment.

Economist John Robertson told VOA Studio 7 reporter Gibbs Dube that mobilizing resources to re-capitalize industry might be more productive by generating income to start paying down external debt.

“Setting up an offices does not generate a flow of income which can be used to settle the debt,” said Robertson.

Zimbabwe owes some US$1.2 billion to the World Bank, about US$400 million to the African Development Bank and around US$140 million to the International Monetary Fund and is heavily in arrears on scheduled payments.