19 September 2018

Zimbabwe: Govt to Launch Transitional Economic Plan

Government plans to launch a Transitional Economic Stabilisation Programme mid next month, which is expected to set the tone for the attainment of a middle-income economy by 2030.

This was said by Finance and Economic Development Minister Professor Mthuli Ncube in Harare yesterday while addressing journalists in the company of outgoing United Kingdom Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Ambassador Catriona Laing.

". . . we are working on a transitional economic stabilisation programme that will lead strides to operationalising 'Vision 2030'," said Prof Ncube.

Asked on when the economic stabilisation plans would be launched, Prof Ncube said; "I would say within the next one month. In fact, we should (launch it) because the world is waiting for us to announce it.

"They want to hear our economic agenda, to operationalise 'Vision 2030', which is already public, so . . . by the middle of October we should be able to launch it publicly then we interrogate it."

The intricate details of economic stabilisation programme are yet to be known but Prof Ncube indicated that it will, among other issues, seek to maximise revenue collection in the country and enunciate other "deeper" reforms.

President Mnangagwa has indicated his desire to transform the citizens' living standards by ensuring that they have decent jobs by 2030.

Job creation was at the centre of the Zanu-pf election campaign manifesto for the July 30 harmonised polls, together with plans to re-engage the international community, fighting corruption, uniting the nation and fostering development.

Under "Vision 2030", Government wants to achieve a middle-income economy with per capita income approaching $3 500 per person.

Prof Ncube said Vision 2030 is "absolutely" achievable if "we all put our hands on deck".

He said in line with 'Vision 2030', there is need for the country to undertake reforms which include fiscal consolidation and arrears clearance.

Zimbabwe is weighing a number of options to clear its arrears including going the Heavily Indebted Poor Country (HIPC) route and a "more commercial route" as a last resort.

Prof Ncube said once they have decided on an arrears clearance strategy to pursue, the creditors would be engaged to establish if they buy into the plan. Currently, there is a Lima Plan, which was tabled in 2015. Zimbabwe's delegation to this year's annual International Monetary Fund and World Bank Group meetings scheduled for Bali Nusa Dua, Indonesia, is expected to engage creditors. The annual meetings are slated for October 12 to 14.

Prof Ncube said the UK has been a "strong partner" for the country in terms of the arrears clearance agenda.

The UK has been supporting Zimbabwe in getting the "right partners" through convening important international meetings from time to time. The UK has been a long-term partner for the company, having extended resources to the tune of 1 billion pounds to support various sectors such as education, health and the Zimbabwe Reconstruction Fund (Zimref). This is in addition to support extended to arrears including technical co-operation.

Said Prof Ncube: "We will be going to Bali for the World Bank meetings and again, further conversation around the arrears clearance issue of which, again, I thank (the) UK for being a key partner in moving that process along. So I wanted to thank Ambassador Laing for being a wonderful supporter for Zimbabwe."

Prof Ncube held what he termed a "fruitful meeting" with Ambassador Laing.

Ambassador Laing said the IMF and World Bank meetings in Bali offer Zimbabwe an opportunity to meet creditors including the United States, who will be "very interested to hear what you say and to see what the timelines are going to be, because I think the sooner we can get on track to deal with these challenging reforms the better".

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