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Africa
Zimbabwe devalues currency
Analysts say revaluation is unlikely to do much to combat rampant inflation.
Last Modified: 31 Jul 2008 18:43 GMT
 The country has been grappling with a record 2.2m per cent inflation [EPA]

Zimbabwe, grappling with a record 2.2m per cent inflation, will issue new bank notes that will revalue a $10bn note to one dollar.

"With effect from 1 August, we are removing 10 zeros. Ten billion dollars today, will be revalued to one zimdollar," Gideon Gono, governor of the central bank, said on Wednesday.

"The new currency will co-circulate together with the family of bearer cheques ... which shall cease to be legal tender on the 31st of December 2008," Gono said.

Zimbabwe removed three zeros from the local dollar in 2006 to make life easier for shoppers forced to carry huge piles of cash to make even the simplest purchases, but the move was followed by sharp price rises.

Shelves in most shops are empty and there are chronic shortages of everything including medication, food, fuel, power and water. Eighty per cent of the work force is unemployed and many who do have jobs do not earn enough to pay for bus fare.

Earlier this month, the government started distributing subsidised basic goods and raised salaries for its workers to an average of two trillion Zimbabwean dollars, worth $33 dollars on the official market and as low as $3 on the parallel market.
   
The salary is about enough to pay for 10 trips to work at today's fares or buy eight loaves of bread.

Cash withdrawals

Gono has also raised the daily cash withdrawal limit from 100 billion Zimbabwean dollars to two trillion Zimbabwean dollars, but analysts said was still far short of individual daily cash requirements.

Analysts said that Wednesday's move would do little to solve Zimbabwe's economic crisis.

"This [re-denomination] is just to overcome the absurd difficulty of having to deal with all those zeros but it does not address the root cause of the problem," John Robertson, an economic consultant, said.

He said that the high rate of inflation was hampering the country's computer systems. Inflation is officially running at 2.2 million per cent but independent economists say that it is closer to 12.5 million per cent.

Computers, electronic calculators and automated teller machines at Zimbabwe's banks cannot handle basic transactions in billions and trillions of dollars.

Robert Mugabe, Zimbabwe's president, went on television immediately after Gono's announcement to warn residents to shun illegal money dealings and profiteering.

"If you drive us more than you have done we will impose emergency measures, and we don't want to place our country in a situation of emergency rules, they can be tough rules you know," he said.

Source:
Agencies
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