Monday, February 16, 2009

Zimbabwe to reform minister

Sun Feb 15, 2009 5:52pm GMT
By MacDonald Dzirutwe

HARARE (Reuters) - Zimbabwe's new finance minister said on Sunday he would reform the central bank and that help from regional power South Africa was crucial for recovery.

Tendai Biti from the MDC, appointed finance minister last week under a power-sharing government with President Robert Mugabe, said he would present a new budget to parliament and urged Western donors to help rebuild the country.

"The Reserve Bank has totally discredited itself," he told Reuters in an interview.

"We must accept that the Reserve Bank is at the core of this economic decay. I make no apologies for those statements."

Analysts say the central bank has helped ruined the economy by printing money and providing trillions of Zimbabwe dollars to state companies and government departments outside the budget, which has fuelled inflation, the world's highest.

Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai's MDC wants to curtail the Reserve Bank's operations and wants it to focus on taming inflation and exchange rate management the bank operates independently from the government.

That could set Biti against central bank chief Gideon Gono, a Mugabe ally, at a time when strong cooperation between government officials is needed to rescue the battered economy.

Biti said he would meet Gono soon. He did not give details.

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