Zimbabwe Finance Minister Says Public Account Stood At $217 Last Week
Zimbabwe’s Finance Minister Tendai Biti had said that the country only had $217 left in its public account last week after paying civil servants. However, he now says that the following day some $30 million of revenue had been paid in. Biti says he had originally announced the small remaining balance to emphasize lack of funds needed to finance the upcoming election.
“Last week when we paid civil servants there was $217 (left) in government coffers,” Biti told journalists in the capital Harare, claiming some of them had healthier bank balances than the state. “The government finances are in paralysis state at the present moment. We are failing to meet our targets.”
“You journalists are mischievous and malicious – the point I was making was that the Zimbabwean government doesn’t have the funds to finance the election, to finance the referendum,” he told the BBC’s Africa radio program. “To dramatize the point, I simply made a passing reference metaphorically that when we paid civil servants last week on Thursday we were left with $217… but even the following day we had $30m in our account.”
Zimbabwe needs about $200 million to finance a referendum on a new constitution, as well as the upcoming election. According to the government-run Herald newspaper, Biti and Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa are tasked finding donors to finance the election.
Zimbabwe’s economy has struggled since President Robert Mugabe began seizing white-owned farms at the turn of the millennium—hurting investor confidence, paralyzing production, scaring off tourists and prompting international sanctions. The country suffered inflation of more than 231 percent, although more than 10 years later the situation has begun to stabilize. Still, public finances remain an issue and businesses struggle with unstable electricity, high labor costs and lack of liquidity.
[Image via Flickr/World Economic Forum]
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