27 August 2014

Zimbabwe: Africa Economy - Zimbabwe to Import Special Coins to Ease Shortages

Harare — The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ), or the central bank, said Monday it will import special coins with similar value to those currently circulating in the economy to ease a shortage of change in the economy.

Special coins are denominated in 1c, 5c, 10c, 20c, and 50c whose values would be at par with the U.S. cents, while South African rand coins of 10c, 20c, 50c, R1, R2 and R5 will also be imported," the central bank said in its 2014 mid-term monetary policy statement.

It, however, did not state when and where the coins would be imported.

Zimbabwe is using multiple currencies since 2009 following the demise of its currency due to hyperinflation.

In the policy statement, RBZ governor John Mangudya noted the severely constrained macro-economic environment prevailing in the country characterized by a serious liquidity crunch, and called for prudent use of the little financial resources available and improved economic production to turn around fortunes of the economy.

The government had projected the economy to grow by 6 percent this year but it has since cut the growth forecast to 3.1 percent due to subdued economic activity.

Lack of long-term capital and foreign direct investment partly due to the indigenization policy requiring foreigners to transfer majority shareholding to blacks, has been blamed for the low foreign financial support to help revive the faltering economy.

Mangudya said foreign direct investment inflows into the country during the first half of 2014 remained subdued due to the perceived country risk and stood at a paltry 67 million U.S. dollars compared to 165 million U.S. dollars during the same period last year.

Export earnings in the six months of the year amounted to 1.23 billion dollars, comparing unfavorably with imports which amounted to 2.99 billion dollars.

Out of the export earnings, mining continued to make a significant contribution, accounting for 52 percent, agriculture 21 percent and manufacturing accounted for 13 percent.

"The level of exports realized by June 2014 were 21 percent lower than what was realized for the same period in 2013. This reflects the slowdown in economic activity mainly due to company closures. As such, this subdued level of exports further compound the liquidity situation and deceleration in economic activity," Mangudya said.

He said the disproportionate gap between the country's exports and imports had inevitably culminated in a deficit of 1.77 billion dollars on the trade account.

The overall balance of payments, after taking into account errors and omissions, recorded a deficit of 366 million dollars in 2013 and was expected to deteriorate further in 2014, he said. - Xinhua


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