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ZIMBABWE’S foreign currency receipts increased by 32% to US$5,09 billion during the eight months ended August 7, 2021, as industries shook-off the effects of a difficult 2020 to ship more products to the international markets, Finance minister Mthuli Ncube told an African Development Bank (AfDB) virtual meeting recently.

Export receipts stood at US$3,85 billion during the same period in 2020.

However, 2020 was one of the most difficult periods for exporters worldwide, with global supply chains crippled by COVID-19-induced hard lockdowns.

The pandemic is still blowing strong, but governments have significantly relaxed restrictions to help economies recover, leading to the stronger export performance.

At the meeting held last week, Ncube said revenues into the fiscus, at $230,4 billion during the first seven months, were slightly below the $241,6 billion expenditure, leading to an $11,2 billion budget deficit.

He said the deficit was within government’s projection of $30 billion by year end.

“The Reserve Bank has reported foreign currency receipts increases of 32% to US$5,09 billion as of 7 August 2021 compared to US$3,85 billion during the same period in 2020,”

Ncube told the meeting, adding that several key infrastructural projects were underway across the country under the emergency road rehabilitation programme.

“The critical Harare-Beitbridge road is being developed, Beitbridge Border Post is currently being modernised,” said the minister.

“The same is happening with the expansion of the Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport and construction of the new Parliament building. All this attests to a government that is committed to the development of the economy and attainment of Vision 2030 of being an upper middle-income economy,” added the

He said in the social sector, schools and health facilities were being constructed, while procurement of agricultural equipment to bolster the country’s food reserves was underway.

Ncube said government was utilising last year’s US$100 million budget surplus to procure COVID-19 vaccines.

“To date, government has spent over US$95 million on procurement of 11,8 million vaccines from various countries and the vaccination rollout programme is going on very well, and we hope to reach 60% head immunity by year-end. Mobilisation of additional resources is underway to ensure that the target population is fully vaccinated,” he said.

“Government acknowledges that the support from the bank (AfDB) and other development partners has changed lives in various communities, leading to improved household incomes, poverty reduction and better livelihoods, among others,” Ncube said.

AfDB country manager Moono Mupotola told the meeting that the regional lender was supporting government efforts in addressing socio-economic challenges.

“The bank’s board of directors approved our strategy for Zimbabwe, which will run until 2023 in May.

“The country brief/strategy is built around two pillars. Supporting Zimbabwe’s private sector, which has been severely impacted by years of economic distress,” Mupotola said.

“The focus of our strategy is to strengthen resilience and build competitiveness by improving the private sector’s productive capacity through an improved business climate, ecosystem and infrastructure,” she said.

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