HomePoliticsToo early to talk about economic recovery' - Kuruneri

Too early to talk about economic recovery’ – Kuruneri

Dumisai Muleya

FINANCE minister Chris Kuruneri says it is too early to draw conclusions about economic recovery and the impact of the monetary policy measures being implemented.

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Kuruneri said it would take time before it could be said what the effect of government’s economic recovery efforts have been.

He said there was need for more cooperation among stakeholders and a greater national resolve to pull Zimbabwe out of the economic morass.

“We are implementing a monetary policy to address issues like pricing – as you know inflation is number one enemy – and indications so far, I want to underline that, are that there has been some positive impact,” Kuruneri told the Zimbabwe Independent in an interview.

“But it’s too early to make any conclusions and confirm the sustainability of that. We however believe it can be sustainable if there is greater resolve.”

Kuruneri said people should be open-minded in dealing with Zimbabwe’s multi-faceted problems. He said he was prepared to listen to anyone with sound ideas.

Last Friday Kuruneri met the visiting International Monetary Fund (IMF) delegation to exchange notes on economic issues. He said the Bretton Woods team voiced concern about Zimbabwe’s macro-economic fundamentals, including inflation, which he described as “the highest in the world”.

“The IMF is here for its Article IV annual meeting to consult with us in terms of our membership of the fund. They are not here to give us money,” he said.

“It is in our interest to engage them and try to benefit from their wider experiences as they have dealt with many economies globally.”

Zimbabwe, Kuruneri said, needed balance-of-payments support from the IMF because its lines of credit have dried up and foreign currency shortages were serious.

“We need ways to make or get foreign currency inflows. We have been putting resources into productive and export sectors to generate the foreign currency,” he said.

“We have the resources and if they are properly harnessed we can be able to generate it. We now have the land and although we are still correcting some mistakes made during the land reform process, agriculture can be our salvation.”

Kuruneri claimed that if Zimbabwe put 200 000 hectares under summer and winter maize it could produce 2,4 million tonnes. “This is more than our annual national consumption of 2 million tonnes and we can have a surplus for sale,” he said.

“During our peak we used to produce 237 million kg of tobacco on 120 000 hectares. This can still be done if we utilise the infrastructure that may still be there and needs only rehabilitation.”

He further claimed Zimbabwe was losing 650 cubic metres of water a minute into the Indian Ocean through the Zambezi River and that this was enough to irrigate a million hectares of tobacco annually and earn Zimbabwe US$5 billion.

“If you then factor in things like soyabeans, cotton, paprika, and several horticultural products, as well as manufacturing, mining and tourism it is not inconceivable for us to raise between US$8 billion and US$9 billion annually,” he said. “But all this requires greater resolve.”

Kuruneri said he would complement the monetary policy by dealing with fiscal policy issues vigorously. He said he would not tolerate unbudgeted expenditure for consumption under any conditions unless it was for “national disasters and other emergencies”.

However, he proved less forthcoming when asked about problems such as government misrule, incompetence, corruption and lawlessness and their impact on the economy, saying: “I don’t deal with political issues.”

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