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By Agencies

ZIMBABWE'S poverty datum line has increased to 1.4 million Zimbabwean dollars (about 250 US dollars), the New Ziana reported on Sunday.

The Consumer Council of Zimbabwe (CCZ) was quoted as saying that figures for August this year showed that a family of six now requires 1,400,386 Zimbabwean dollars a month for basic needs. Previously the same family needed 1.2 million Zimbabwean dollars (about 214 US dollars).

The CCZ said the basket figure has increased from the July figure due to increases noted in food such as margarine, fresh milk, cooking oil, bread, salt, meat among others. "We have noted that there has been a wave of increases of basic commodities in July and August 2004 and hope that the increases along with the recent rise in fuel will not derail the fight against inflation," said the CCZ.

More than 65 percent of Zimbabweans are living below the poverty datum line. The consumer watchdog said it has noted with concern, that some retailers were engaged in profiteering.

The government has since identified inflation as the number one public enemy in the country.

In line with this, the fiscal and monetary policies during the first half of the year have been targeted at inflation, to bring it down from over 620 percent at the end of last year to below 200 percent by December this year.

Presenting the mid-term fiscal policy review statement in July, Acting Minister of Finance and Economic Development Herbert Murerwa said "while the process of taming inflation involves much suffering on the part of public, notable benefits are being achieved on this front."

"This should, however not lull us into a false sense of security. Much more fiscal consolidation and monetary policy tightening will be required for us to realize our set targets," said Murerwa.

However, disposable incomes for low earners will improve from this month after the government increased tax bands from 200,000 Zimbabwean dollars (about 35.7 US dollars) to 750,000 Zimbabwean dollars (about 133.7 US dollars) - Xinhuanet

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