Govt must pay up: Robertson

Prominent economist, John Robertson, said the Government of National Unity must pay the cash owed to major international creditors such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund for it to gain and maintain respect.

In an exclusive interview in Harare, Robertson said the country owed these institutions billions of dollars and for it to retain its "credibility it must pay up quickly".

The World Bank recently confirmed that the GNU owed $8,8 billion in outstanding arrears. It owes the World bank about $2,2 billion of this amount while the rest is owed to other creditors such as the African Development Bank and the IMF based in Washington Dc in the United States of America.

"We owe many people lots of money and we must pay up quickly," Robertson said. "If we do not pay up we will not be respected and will not receive any more funding from them. We must also speak with one voice on the new indigenisation regulations for investors to be able to plan about investing here."

There are many conflicting statements from government ministers about the new investment regulations in Zimbabwe. Major commercial banking institutions such as Barclays Bank of Zimbabwe Limited and Standard Chartered Bank Zimbabwe Limited whose head offices are in London in the United Kingdom have expressed concern about the confusion surrounding the new regulations.

Mining concerns such as Zimbabwe Platinum Mines Limited and Anglo American Corporation Limited, whose head offices are in South Africa, have also expressed concern bout the 51 percent requirement for locals pointing out that this could be "too much".

However, the government has refused to budge.

"We must come clean on this," Robertson said. "If we do not come clean we have ourselves to blame."

He said Zimbabwe needed to increase production levels in order to earn more from exports. Zimbabwe's Gross Domestic Product (GDP) currently stands at 8 percent, up from minus 17 percent in 2008 when inflation was more than 231 million percent, the highest in the world.

Robertson said tourism and agriculture could encourage growth even more if the government was "really serious about what it is doing".

Inflation stands at four percent, the lowest in the region, while income poverty still stands at more than 80 percent.

Robertson said there was "more room for massive improvement for Zimbabwe if we pay up quickly and respect property rights".

The World Bank has already said it will not give Zimbabwe a cent if it does not pay outstanding dues owed to international creditors including itself – a staggering $2,2 billion.

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