Zimbabwe’s budget deficit will increase by nearly $US120 million this year due to a maize subsidy, Reuters calculations show, in a scheme critics of President Robert Mugabe say will be open to abuse and saddle a troubled economy with more debt.
Facing an election in 2018, Mugabe says the subsidy will make Zimbabwe self-sufficient in the grain and help struggling farmers.
Mugabe’s government announced the scheme last year as part of a ‘Command Agriculture’ drive, saying it would pay farmers $US390 a tonne for maize this harvest to encourage farmers to plant.
Nearly 70 per cent of Zimbabwe’s population is rural-based and survives on agriculture.
The government has not said what it will do with the maize it has bought – essentially who it …