Zimbabwe FM positive about growth
Harare - Zimbabwe’s economy is projected to grow by up to 9%
next year, driven by stronger farm output and mine exports, Finance Minister
Tendai Biti said Wednesday.
"The economy is projected to grow by 7.8% to 9% in
2012, compared to a growth rate of about 9.3% in 2011," Biti said in a
pre-budget statement to parliament.
"Agriculture and mining will remain the major
contributors to overall growth, with other sectors such as tourism,
manufacturing, transport and communication also increasing their share."
He said inflation is expected at 3.7% in 2011 and 5% in
The national budget for 2012 will be $3.5bn, up from $2.7bn
this year. Biti said donors could chip in about $500m.
The 2012 budget includes funding for a constitutional
referendum and elections but the lion's share - $2.1bn - will cover wages, he
Exports are projected to jump by 11% to $4.6bn next year, he
Food imports are seen dropping by nearly one third, he said,
a sharp improvement for a country that has struggled to feed its population for
the last decade.
The current account deficit - the shortfall between exports
and imports plus some capital transfers - is projected to improve from $1.6bn
in 2011 to $1.2bn in 2012.
But Biti said the government must focus more on its top
priorities, pointing out that $80m is needed to rehabilitate power plants while
the government has spent $40m on foreign travel so far this year.
Biti belongs to Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai's Movement
for Democratic Change, which for the last two years has shared power with
long-ruling President Robert Mugabe in a fragile unity government.
The government has halted the country's economic freefall,
largely by abandoning the local currency that was left worthless after years of
But Zimbabwe is still struggling to attract foreign
investment and create jobs, with many investors keeping a wary eye on elections
expected next year.