Zimbabwe's accelerating inflation rate reaches the millions
Chris McGreal in Harare, smh
July 18, 2008
ZIMBABWE'S official inflation rate has reached 2.2 million per cent, driving the cost of a loaf of bread to about a third of a teacher's monthly salary.
Independent economists dismissed the Government's figure, saying the true rate was several times higher and rising faster than ever.
On Wednesday the governor of the central bank, Gideon Gono, announced a near 13-fold increase since the last time he released an inflation rate, in February, when it was put at 165,000 per cent.
Officials admit it is only an estimate because it is impossible to track the cost of individual goods.
One of the most respected economists in Zimbabwe, John Robertson, said that while inflation was probably about 2 million per cent in May it soared again last month. "I think the June figure is more likely to be 10 million per cent, and it could turn out 15 million per cent," he said.
Mr Robertson said inflation was largely being driven by the collapse in the black market value of the Zimbabwe dollar against the US dollar. "I think we're heading for 40 or 50 million per cent inflation by the end of July."
Last year the Government tried to curb inflation by forcing shops to lower prices by up to 80 per cent, leading to a rush on food, electrical goods and furniture.
Since then the shelves of many shops and supermarkets have been largely bare, except when owners are prepared to risk being caught charging prices that reflect the cost of importing goods from South Africa.
Huge queues form outside any bakery selling bread at a controlled price, and demand far outstrips supply.
Guardian News & Media