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Last Updated: Tuesday, 27 November 2007, 17:44 GMT
Zimbabwe inflation 'incalculable'
Empty supermarket shelves in Zimbabwe
Basic goods have disappeared from supermarket shelves
Zimbabwe's chief statistician has said it is impossible to work out the country's latest inflation rate because of the lack of goods in shops.

"There are too many data gaps," the Central Statistical Office's Moffat Nyoni told state media.

Many staple goods are often absent from shop shelves after the government ordered prices to be halved or frozen in a bid to stem galloping inflation.

September's inflation rate was put at almost 8,000%, the world's highest.

Other reports suggest the rate could be at near 15,000% and the International Monetary Fund had warned it could reach 100,000% by the end of the year.

Black market

Mr Nyoni said the Central Statistical Office has delayed the release of the inflation figure until an accurate way of calculating it can be found.

"We went to too many shops to observe and so compilations have not been completed," he said.

Maize meal, bread, meat, cooking oil, sugar and other basic goods used to measure inflation largely disappeared from shops after Robert Mugabe's government ordered prices to be slashed.

Manufacturers have said they cannot afford to sell goods at below the cost of producing them.

Most basics are intermittently available on the black market at well over the official prices.

Last month, the central bank offered loans, known as Bacossis, to businesses at 25% interest to restore supplies to shops, AP news agency reports.

"We hope the situation will improve, especially with the availing of Bacossi funds," Mr Nyoni said.

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