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Last Updated: Monday, 16 April 2007, 18:12 GMT 19:12 UK
Zimbabwe delays inflation figures
By Rodney Smith
BBC World Service business presenter

Woman shopping for bread in a shop in Harare
The cost of basic items has soared
Zimbabwe has delayed the publication of inflation data, leading to claims the government is reluctant to admit the extent of crippling price rises.

The release of the monthly figures has been put back a week at a time when inflation is fast approaching 2000%.

Zimbabwe is about to mark 27 years of independence and it is thought ministers are reluctant to reveal the degree of last month's price rises.

Inflation hit a record 1730% in February, the highest in the world.

IMF criticism

The inflation figures for March should have been published last week.

Higher fuel prices and businesses anticipating a possible wage freeze are believed to have added to the general rate of increase.

Even the governor of the Central Bank, Gideon Gono, has talked of his country suffering from "economic HIV".

At least 80% of Zimbabwe's population of about 13 million is living below the poverty line, according to figures from the Zimbabwe Congress of Trades Unions.

Last month the International Monetary Fund (IMF) condemned the Zimbabwean government for showing little sign that it was getting to grips with its mounting economic problems.

The result, said the IMF, would be more hardship and rising political tension.

It also forecast inflation hitting 5000% by the end of the year if President Mugabe's government did not act swiftly.

In neighbouring South Africa, the rand has been weakened by fears that any unrest in Zimbabwe would spill over into its neighbour.

The South African rand is currently trading at about R7.10 to the US dollar.


SEE ALSO
Q&A: Zimbabwe meltdown
13 Apr 07 |  Africa
'Zimbabwe is still working'
16 Mar 07 |  Africa
Zimbabwe inflation nears 1,600%
12 Feb 07 |  Business

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