Zim wont pay foreign debt this yr

tendai_biti_financeFINANCE Minister Tendai Biti (pictured) said last Friday the country was unlikely to pay off any international arrears this year after revenue collection fell 35 percent below target in the first quarter.

Minister Biti said Zimbabwe, which owes foreign lenders US$7 billion, was not meeting its economic expectations and revenue collection was below target by US$80-million every month.

“We are supposed to be collecting US$230-million every month but at the moment we are only managing to get $150-million,” he said. Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai early this month said the country would use revenue from alluvial diamond sales to repay part of its external debt, which stands at more than annual gross domestic product estimated at US$6-billion.

Last November, Minister Biti presented a US$3,2 billion budget of which US$2,7 billion was expected to come from domestic revenues and the remainder donor assistance. “We are on a cash budget, so this means we are not going to pay off arrears or carry out some of the capital expenditure projects lined up for the year,” Biti said.

He did not say whether the lower revenue collection would affect growth estimates for the economy, which he earlier said would expand by 9,3 percent this year. In his budget, Minister Biti expected $500-million to come from foreign financiers but that has not been forthcoming as key Western donors have withheld aid and demanded broad political reforms.

The all-inclusive Government has managed to stabilise the economy but has not managed to attract the billions of dollars needed to rebuild the devastated economy.

An International Monetary Fund team visiting for annual consultations with the Government last week indicated that a resumption of lending by the institution, which last lent Zimbabwe money in 1999, was still far off.

The Fund wants Zimbabwe to clear arrears of more than US$140-million before it contemplates any funding programme.

Post published in: Agriculture

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