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After Data-Release Hiatus, Zimbabwe Posts 7,635% 12-Month Inflation

After four months of withholding inflation data, Zimbabwe's Central Statistical Office Wednesday released figures for July showing 12-month inflation running at more than 7,000% compared with 3,700% in March the last report it issued in April.

Cumulative inflation for one year through July totaled 7,634.5% after 7,251% in June, said the statistical office, which the government has said it is overhauling.

The release closely followed a circular sent by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe to local financial institutions showing the identical 7,251% figure for June – banks needed the inflation data to finalize their financial statements for the first half of this year.

The CSO release followed a leak to the media of the inflation data given to the banks.

The continued rise of inflation in Zimbabwe is bad news for Southern African officials seeking to integrate regional economies. South African Reserve Bank Governor Tito Mboweni said Wednesday that Zimbabwe’s crisis is scuttling that project.

Regional economic experts say average inflation in the region excluding Zimbabwe is expected to turn out around 17% this year, with officials targeting 9% next year.

Harare economist John Robertson told reporter Blessing Zulu that the relatively small gain over June levels might be interpreted by Harare as showing its price-cutting drive has worked - but the real prices Zimbabweans are paying for goods that have been made scarce by the operation suggest inflation may be running much higher.

Chief Economist Prosper Chitambara of the Labor and Economic Development Research Institute of Zimbabwe said the country remains the "sick man of the region," and is making Southern Africa less competitive as a whole.

More reports from VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe...