'Cash-strapped' Zimbabwe has 217 dollars bank balance

Jan 30, 2013, 13:30 IST | Agencies

Zimbabwe's finance minister has said that there were only 217 dollars in the government account.

The balance in cash-strapped Zimbabwe’s government public account stood at just 217 dollars, Finance Minister Tendai Biti has said.

Biti, claiming that some civil servants had healthier bank balances than the state, told journalists that last week after paying salaries to them there was only 217 dollars left in government coffers.

He said that the government finances are in paralysis state at the present moment, adding that they were failing to meet their targets.

Zimbabwe’s economy went into free-fall at the turn of the millennium, after President Robert Mugabe began seizing white-owned farms.

The move demolished investor confidence in the country, paralyzed production, prompted international sanctions and scared off tourists.

After more than a decade, in which the country suffered hyper-inflation of 231 million percent and infrastructure that crumbled as quickly as prices went up, the situation is now more stable.

But public finances remain a mess and local business battles against unstable electricity supplies, lack of liquidity and high labour costs.

Zimbabwe’s government has warned it does not have enough money to fund a constitutional referendum and elections expected this year.

Biti said that left no choice but to ask the donors for cash.

The country’s elections agency said it required 104 million dollars to organise the vote.

Government’s national budget for this year stands at 3.8 billion dollars and the economy is projected to grow five percent.

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