Zim is rock-bottom
HARARE - A leading international research group, the Fraser Institute, has ranked Zimbabwe the worst destination for mining investors, following a survey of 164 countries that was carried out - even before Harare unveiled new plans to seize stake in foreign-owned mining firm

s. The Canada-based institute assesses risk in the mining industry in various countries across the globe, looking at factors such as economic stability and government controls in order to help international investors in the industry make informed decisions on where to place new investments. Zimbabwe, grappling a severe economic crisis critics blame on repression and wrong economic policies by President Robert Mugabe, scored 2.4 percent out of a possible 100 on its mining policies. – ZimOnline

Gono woes Russians
HARARE – Reserve Bank for Zimbabwe (RBZ) governor Gideon Gono was scheduled to meet Russian bankers and investors in Moscow this week to try and persuade them to help revive ailing state-owned firms. Gono will also try to convince the Russians to invest in the state’s fixed telephone company, Tel One as well as the country’s second largest mobile phone operator, Net One, which is also owned by government.  NRZ and the government telecommunication firms are among seven parastatals short-listed by the government last December for complete privatisation or joint venture projects with foreign investors. – ZimOnline

Steel deal
HARARE – The government last month concluded a deal with Indian steel maker Global Steel Holdings Limited (GSHL) for the Asian firm to invest US$400 million in the state-owned Zimbabwe Iron and Steel Company (ZISCO). Under the deal, GSHL – which has a capital base of US$8 billion – will refurbish ZISCO and operate the steel plant and will only hand it back to the Zimbabwe government after 20 years. – ZimOnline

Inflation gauge inaccurate
HARARE – The Central Statistical Office (CSO) is underestimating the country’s year-on-year rate of inflation, expected to hit the 1,000 percent mark soon, say informed sources.  It gives less weight to food items, which analysts say make up the bulk of consumer purchases and are therefore a truer barometer. The University of Zimbabwe has come up with a more relevant formula, which experts hope the government will soon adopt.  Most local consumers now spend up to 90 percent of their income on food, while food prices have soared and encouraged a thriving black market, where prices are out of the reach of most. – Own correspondent

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