The Zimbabwean Finance Ministry has raised $20 million (500 million Zimbabwe dollars) in treasury bill auctions which it plans to use to fight the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19). The country’s Finance Minister, Mthuli Ncube, made this announcement on Wednesday, June 3, 2020, at the parliament.
Speaking to a parliamentary committee, Ncube mentioned that in totality, the government aimed to raise 1 billion Zimbabwe dollars in emergency coronavirus funding, with the rest coming from “the insurance and pension funds.” He also added that the funds would be spent on protective equipment and given as payouts to families worst hit by the pandemic.
For over 2 decades, banks and other local investors in Zimbabwe have been the main buyers of its treasury bills. This is because the country has a debt default records which makes it impossible to borrow loans from most international lenders.
According to a report by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the country has recently implemented several policies to aid speedy economic recovery from the pandemic shocks. They include the extension of payments of corporate taxes (waiving interest and penalties) for companies, the suspension of duties and taxes on goods and services related to COVID-19 (including on testing, protection, sterilization, other medical consumables).
The government also relaxed procurement regulations to facilitate speedy buying of essential goods and services, while offering corporate tax credits of up to 50 percent for COVID-19 donations.
The country was already battling hyperinflation, food insecurity, unavailability of medical supplies among many other problems for over 2 decades.
All of these factors contributed to why the African country defaulted in the repayment of its loans, disqualifying it from foreign aids from international lenders like the World Bank and the IMF. The economic shocks from COVID-19 have simply amplified an already existing problem.