Sunday, June 28, 2009

Zimbabwe PM rules out reviving worthless local currency

JOHANNESBURG (AFP) — Zimbabwe Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai on Saturday ruled out reviving in the short term the worthless local currency scrapped earlier this year to beat world record inflation.
But his comments clashed with veteran leader Robert Mugabe's assertions to the contrary a day earlier, highlighting the uneasy relationship between the two former arch-foes currently sharing power in a unity government.
"For economic reasons, there is no way you can resort to the Zimbabwean dollar currency in a situation of low production," Tsvangirai told a news conference in Johannesburg.
"You have to increase your productivity levels from the current 10 percent to about 50-60 percent, otherwise you slide back to... inflation," he said.
"It is impracticable to talk about even resorting to a currency which is worthless at this stage.
"There are no plans yet. There are discussions" to revive the Zimbabwe dollar, which was once on a par with the British pound but is now arguably the world's most useless currency.
Mugabe however Friday said the local money should be revived as multiple currencies introduced earlier this year to beat inflation were not helping the plight of the people.
"Yes, prices may have gone down but the people should have the money," the state-controlled Herald newspaper quoted Mugabe as saying.
"If they don't have the money, how will they buy the goods? We can't run a country like that. We are considering changing that and reverting to our own currency."
The government allowed shops and service providers to trade in foreign currency, mainly the US dollar and the South African rand, to help businesses acquire stocks from neighbouring countries.
Before the introduction of other currencies, most shops resembled empty warehouses as businesses failed to restock because of constantly changing prices.
Faced with a worsening economic crisis and political tensions, Zimbabwe's three main political rivals have formed a power-sharing agreement aimed at reviving the economy and easing tensions.

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