Zimbabwe is considering establishing a currency board, the latest in a series of measures to support the embattled Zimbabwean dollar.
“The issue of the currency board is being looked at,” Ashok Chakravarti, a member of the central bank’s monetary policy committee, said Thursday at an economic conference in the resort city of Victoria Falls. “It is being considered.”
The Zimbabwean dollar has lost more than three-quarters of its value this year. Reintroduced in February 2019, the local unit is being sidelined by businesses and individuals in favor of the U.S. dollar, which is being used to pay for everything from food to fuel, medicines and school fees. The depreciation has spawned an annual inflation rate of almost 257% — among the highest in the world.
So far this year, the authorities have taken steps including raising interest rates to the highest in the world, reintroducing the US dollar as legal tender, and selling gold coins to curtail demand for foreign currency. That’s failed to stem the Zimbabwean dollar’s slide — it fell 1.7% to 464.3 per US dollar on Thursday.
A currency board must among other requirements back all units of domestic currency in circulation with foreign currency. Zimbabwe would need about $700 million to back the amount of local money in circulation, Chakravarti said.
Zimbabwe had $777.9 million of total reserves at the end of May, according to International Monetary Fund data. The country’s public and publicly guaranteed external debt is forecast to increase to $17.6 billion next year, of which 47% of gross domestic product is expected to be in arrears, the IMF said in March.
Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Governor John Mangudya didn’t answer two calls to his mobile phone seeking comment.-Bloomberg