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Posted at: Jan 13, 2019, 7:16 AM; last updated: Jan 13, 2019, 7:16 AM (IST)

Zimbabwe plans new currency as $ shortage bites

HARARE, January 12

Zimbabwe will introduce a new currency in the next 12 months, the country’s Finance Minister said, as a shortage of US dollars plunges the financial system into disarray, forcing businesses to close and threatening unrest.

The southern African nation abandoned its own hyperinflation-wrecked currency in 2009 at the height of an economic recession, adopting the greenback and other currencies including sterling and the South African rand.

But without enough hard currency to back up the $10 billion of electronic funds trapped in local bank accounts, businesses and civil servants are demanding payment in cash which can be deposited and used to make payments both inside and outside the country.

Mthuli Ncube told a townhall meeting that a new local currency would be introduced in less than 12 months.

Locals are haunted by memories of the Zimbabwean dollar, which became worthless as hyperinflation spiralled to reach 500 billion percent in 2008, the highest rate in the world for a country not at war, wiping out pensions and savings. A surrogate bond note currency introduced in 2016 to stem dollar shortages has also collapsed in value. — AFP

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