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Zimbabwe Will Attempt to Establish Gold-Backed Currency

Tuesday February 13, 2024 Zimbabwe’s government said Monday it is introducing a gold-backed currency to replace the country’s nearly worthless dollar, which most businesses have shunned, preferring the U.S. dollar or South African rand.

Minister for Finance and Economic Development Mthuli Ncube told reporters in an online press conference that Zimbabwe was making the move to ensure sustained growth.

“Really this is a quest for currency stability,” Ncube said. “What has emerged over the years is the U.S. [dollar] being the most dominant.

“Going forward, we want to make sure that the growth we have achieved so far — which is very strong — is maintained and even increased,” he said. “We can only do that if we have further stability in the domestic currency. … And the way to do that is perhaps to link the exchange rate to some hard asset such as gold.”

He did not say when Zimbabwe will introduce the gold-backed currency.

Since Zimbabwe’s independence in 1980, the country has introduced new currencies several times after citizens and businesses shunned the previous money.

The present-day currency, known as the dollar, bondnotes or ZWL, was introduced in 2014. Within months it started losing value, something economists attributed to the government overprinting notes and businesses failing to have confidence in the currency.

It now trades at 20,000 for 1 U.S. dollar.

Prosper Chitambara, a senior economist with the Labor and Economic Development Research Institute of Zimbabwe, said the move will help control money supply.

“It also helps to stabilize the value of the currency because, ultimately, the value of the currency would be determined to a greater extent by the value of gold,” he said. “On paper, it sounds [like] a good idea to link your currency to an underlying asset such as gold.”

Ultimately, Chitambara said, Zimbabwe needs to exercise fiscal responsibility if it wants a stable domestic currency.

“We need to ensure fiscal sustainability through ensuring there is fiscal discipline, fiscal consolidation, restructuring public spending with a view of eliminating waste and nonproductive spending,” he said.

Also, he said, it is important to ensure monetary discipline through controlling supply and making institutional reforms to address waste and inefficiencies in public enterprises.

Zimbabwe “has been losing money through subsidizing loss-making parastatals and entities,” he said, referring to state-owned companies.

Steven Dhlamini, an economics professor at National University of Science and Technology, said the success of the change will also hinge on whether people have confidence in the gold-backed currency — “whether they believe the government will indeed be transparent and accountable as to the production of the gold viz-a-vis the printing of the currency.”

“So once the trust is established, then that is critical in ensuring the currency will be acceptable and will be stable,” he said.

 

Source VOA

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