By Alois Vinga
FINANCE Minister Mthuli Ncube Thursday claimed Zimbabwe had recorded a whopping $9.8 billion budget surplus during the first quarter of 2021.
However, presenting the Treasury quarterly bulletin, Ncube attributed deep economic reforms he has implemented to the enormous budget surplus.
“On the fiscal front, a budget surplus of $9.8 billion was recorded as the government continued fiscal consolidation for ensuring stability and restoration of market confidence,” he said.
“Success of stabilisation reforms is also evidenced through a significant drop in the annual inflation rate to 240.6% by March 2021 from 837.5% in July 2020. Similarly, the exchange rate has stabilised at around US$1: $84 throughout the quarter,” he said.
Ncube added the good rains received during the 2020/21 season also herald better economic prospects for the year and the crop and livestock assessment reports were indicating a 23% increase in area planted under summer crops with expectations for higher output in 2021.
“The first quarter experienced a significant amount of rainfall across all provinces, with no reports of false starts as was the case with the 2019/2020 agricultural season.”
The Treasury boss said the national cattle numbers had also increased from 5.4 million in 2020 to the current levels of 5.5 million with sheep expected to increase from 547 696 in 2020 to 697 910 in 2021, and goats increasing from 3.9 million to 4 million in 2020 and 2021, respectively.
During the period under review, the performance of the mining sector was mixed with firm international prices and the resuscitation of closed mines improved the performance of the sector.
However, according to Ncube, there were major drawbacks from a number of factors such as unstable power supplies, heavy rains which flooded mine shafts, working capital challenges, and subdued demand for some minerals.
Overall, platinum, diamonds, and coal performed better than the previous quarter while declines were noted in gold, chrome, and nickel.