Covid-19 won’t slow down economic growth: Mthuli

Finance and Economic Development Minister, Professor Mthuli Ncube

HARARE – Covid-19 will not retard the positive economic growth trajectory Zimbabwe has achieved so far and the momentum is set to be maintained into 2022, Finance and Economic Development Minister, Professor Mthuli Ncube, has said. 

Despite the outbreak of Covid-19 early last year, which resulted in tough national lockdown measures to contain its spread, the minister said the gains achieved under the Transitional Stabilisation Programme (TSP) (2018-2020) had placed the economy on firm ground, with ability to withstand shocks induced by the pandemic.

The country is grappling with a fourth wave of the pandemic, but the Government has urged citizens to remain calm saying the mitigation measures put in place, including the ongoing mass vaccinations, would guarantee the country of health security. 

In an interview after officiating at the listing ceremony of Bindura Nickel Corporation on the Victoria Falls Stock Exchange (VFEX) last Friday, Prof Ncube said the economy has remained stable amid different phases of the pandemic.

“I am very pleased with the general stability that has come through on the macro-economic front, inflation has been dropping, all those are very good developments when we look at the quality of monetary policy that’s being instituted by the Central Bank and the fiscal policy under Treasury,” he said.

“Although the Covid-19 pandemic is still a risk, we expect that going into next year the positive macro-economic gains the country has so far achieved will continue.”

The minister urged all Zimbabweans to play their part in mitigating against the spread of Covid-19 pandemic, including getting vaccinated. 

The mass vaccination programme is being rolled out for free and the country targets herd immunity of 10 million people out of a total population of about 15 million.

So far about four million have been vaccinated under the first dose and second dose at three million, according to the Ministry of Health and Child Care update issued yesterday.   

“We are going to make sure that we encourage all our citizens to be vaccinated, it is the only silver bullet against the pandemic,” said the minister.

“It (vaccination) is also the economic recovery strategy because we can run the economy and open it safely if all are vaccinated. That’s very important but we expect a growth of about 5,5 percent in 2022,” said Prof Ncube.

Zimbabwe is projected to close the year at 7,8 percent gross domestic product (GDP) growth rate underpinned largely by the agriculture sector that received good rains in the previous rain season.

Prof Ncube said there had also been a general stability that has come through on the macro-economic front as evidenced by the slowing down of inflation and the offshore fund in terms of the current account, which is expected to be in a surplus position.

According to the Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency (Zimstat), the country’s year-on-year inflation for November 2021 as measured by the all-items Consumer Price Index stood at 58,4 percent. 

Under the National Development Strategy 1 (NDS 1), a five-year economic blue-print running from 2021-2025), the Government targets single-digit inflation.

“We still expect a good rainy season, which will support the agricultural sector, we still expect strong performance from the mining sector and we expect our manufacturing sector to continue doing well and investment in infrastructure by the Government will continue going forward into 2022,” said the Minister. 

“So, everything is still aligned again for a good performance in 2022,” added Prof    Ncube.

However, he said the tourism sector remains the hardest hit on the back of travel restrictions that countries have imposed as part of measures to contain the spread of Covid-19. 

“We wish tourism could perform better but it’s the pandemic that is slowing us down on our tourism support. But we continue to support the industry so that it can recover,” said Prof Ncube.  – Herald

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