ZimAsset too ambitious: Hawkins

HARARE - Zimbabwe's five year economic blueprint, ZimAsset, is too ambitious and risks failing to meet its targets because it depends on rapid export growth in a sluggish world economy, a top economist has said.

Tony Hawkins, the University of Zimbabwe Economics lecturer said targets set out in the economic blueprint were impossible to achieve “especially now that there is mounting global evidence that export-led growth is no longer a viable strategy”.

This comes as various economic experts had dubbed the economic blueprint — touted as a panacea to economic problems — as a pie in the sky due to its over ambitious goals.

The blueprint, which borrows from the ruling Zanu PF’s election manifesto and previous national development programmes, identifies four major clusters, namely food security and nutrition, social services and poverty reduction, infrastructure and utilities and value addition and beneficiation.

It comes on the back of a cocktail of economic policies that have dismally failed to breathe life into the country’s economy.

These range from the Economic Structural Adjustment Programme (Esap) to Zimbabwe Programme for Economic and Social Transformation (Zimprest) to the abandoned Medium Term Plan that was supposed to run until next year, among others.

Under ZimAsset, Zimbabwe targets to create 2,2 million jobs, unlock $1,8 trillion in idle mineral reserves and grow the economy by an average seven percent annually.

With the local economy only generating approximately $3,6 billion in annual revenue, Zim Asset was anchored on the mobilisation of $27 billion mostly from the emerging markets, mainly Brazil, Russia, China, India and South Africa.

However, the Brics countries have indicated that they will not financially support Zimbabwe’s Zim Asset project as the southern African nation is “too rich to beg for financial assistance.”

Hawkins also noted that Zimbabwe’s economy would have to grow by at least 20 percent annually in an effort to treble its formal employment if the country hopes to achieve creating 2,2 million jobs.

“Economies do not grow without investment,” he said adding that since dollarisation in 2009, investment has averaged only 17 percent of gross domestic product (GDP).

“For the economy to grow at the targeted (Zim-Asset) six percent to seven percent rate, investment of at least 30 percent of GDP needed,” said Hawkins.

The respected economist noted that national savings were wiped out by hyperinflation and dollarisation.

“Since 2010 savings have been negative — averaging 11 percent of GDP.

“ So inadequate investment — as well as consumption — is being funded offshore to the tune of 25 percent of GDP each year,” he added.


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