We’ve all been through lean times during which we’ve lived paycheck to paycheck, just hoping our meager salary would be enough to see us through to the next payday. In these tough economic times, everyone has had to cut back, tighten their belts and learn to go without on occasion. That includes the country of Zimbabwe where a government official announced yesterday that the country had only $217 in its bank account as recently as last week. Yes, that’s just $217 total, which is probably less than most Gadling readers have socked away.
According to Finance Minister Tendai Biti, the country reached this unusually low level after paying the wages of its civil servants last Thursday. But he quickly amended the statement by pointing out that the government took in $30 million in revenue the following day, giving them the operating expenses necessary to keep the country running.
2013 is an election year for Zimbabwe, however, and Biti’s message was a warning that the country may not have the funds necessary to operate the polls unless something changes. It is estimated that it will cost about $104 million to hold the elections, plus millions more for a referendum on a new constitution. That’s money that the struggling African country just doesn’t have at the moment.
With an economy that is still recovering from the global recession and high unemployment rates across the region, there simply isn’t a large enough tax base to fill the government’s coffers. Biti and his staff will attempt to instead find private funds to pay for the upcoming election and referendum.
Zimbabwe’s economy has been in turmoil since 2008 when hyperinflation caused their currency to become all but useless. At the time, the inflation rate skyrocketed by an astounding 231,000,00%. It got so bad at one point that the nation’s central bank had to actually print Z$100 billion bills. In 2009, a new coalition government switched the economy to U.S. dollars, bringing a level of stability to the economy, but the nation has continued to struggle ever since.
While the global recession has been a real struggle over the past few years, we can all take some solace in knowing that last week at this time there was an African government that was as broke as we are. They recovered quickly of course, but thank goodness they didn’t have to post-date any checks.
[Photo Credit: Nation of Zimbabwe]