Zimbabwe raises $20 million in T-bill sales to fight coronavirus

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HARARE (Reuters) – Zimbabwe has raised 500 million Zimbabwe dollars ($20 million) in treasury bill auctions that it will use to help combat the spread of the coronavirus, its finance minister said on Wednesday.

The outbreak has hit an economy that was experiencing its worst crisis in a decade, marked by shortages of food, medicines and foreign currency.

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Minister Mthuli Ncube said the funds would be spent on protective equipment and go towards payouts to those families worst impacted by COVID-19.

In all, the government aimed to raise 1 billion Zimbabwe dollars in emergency coronavirus funding, with the rest coming from “the insurance and pension funds”, he told a parliamentary committee, without giving details.

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Banks and other local investors are usually the main buyers of Zimbabwe’s domestic debt.

Zimbabwe, which has experienced bouts of hyperinflation in the last decade, does not qualify to borrow from international lenders like the Word Bank and International Monetary Fund due to longstanding arrears.

The treasury has resorted to domestic borrowing to help finance the budget, while the central bank frequently provides unbudgeted subsidies to farmers and gold producers, fuelling inflation, which rose beyond 750 year-on-year in April.

Reporting by MacDonald Dzirutwe; editing by John Stonestreet

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