- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Wracked by drought, deflation and falling world commodity prices, the Zimbabwean economy faces deepening economic difficulties with little relief in sight, the International Monetary Fund said in a new report Wednesday.

Already one of the world’s poorest countries, Zimbabwe has struggled to sustain economic reforms as 92-year-old President Robert Mugabe gets set to mark his 40th year in power next year.

“Unless the country takes bold reforms, the economic difficulties will continue in [the] medium term,” IMF analysts said in a statement after the most recent consultation with Zimbabwean officials. “Given the outlook for the global economy, growth is projected to remain below levels needed to ensure sustainable development and poverty reduction.”

After a growth spurt earlier in the decade, Zimbabwe’s economy has stalled more recently. Real GDP jumped by 10.6 percent in 2012 but fell to just 1.1 percent last year. Drought and “erratic” rains have hurt agricultural output and disrupted electricity supplies.

IMF officials said Harare has met its most recent commitments to begin reforms needed to repair the country’s finances and underwrite future growth, but added that “a step-up to a comprehensive and deep economic policy adjustment agenda will be critical to address Zimbabwe’s daunting economic challenges.”

• David R. Sands can be reached at dsands@washingtontimes.com.

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