Friday, August 22, 2008

$500 Toilet Paper

How bad is inflation in Zimbabwe? Well, consider this. Toilet paper costs $417. No, not per roll. 417 Zimbabwean dollars is the value of a single two-ply sheet. A roll costs $145,750. The price of toilet paper, like everything else, soars daily, spawning jokes about an impending better use for $500 bill, now the smallest in circulation.

This is no laughing matter. Toilet paper, bread and even the morning cup of tea have become luxuries. All are casualties of the hyperinflation that is roaring toward 11 million percent in June, a rate usually seen only in war zones. It has been tormented this entire decade by both deep recession and high inflation, but in recent months all hell breaks loose. Its inflation is the world's highest and has been for some time.

If you need something and have cash, you buy it. If you have cash you spend it today, because tomorrow it's going to be worth 5% less. Those with spare cash put it not in banks, which pay a paltry 4 to 10% annual interest, but in investments like bags of corn meal and sugar!

Public-school fees and other ever-rising government surcharges have begun to exceed the monthly incomes of many urban families lucky enough to find work. The unemployed is officially 70% of 4.2 million workers, but widely placed at 80% when idle farmers are included.

The purity of drinking water, siphoned from a lake downstream of its sewer outfall, has been unreliable for months. The city suffers rolling electrical blackouts. Mounds of uncollected garbage pile up on the streets of the slums.
The government has printed trillions of new Zimbabwean dollars to keep ministries functioning and to shield the salaries of public servants. This only worsens inflation, for printing too many worthless dollars is in part what got Zimbabwe into this mess to begin with.

What is your thought on the above? Definitely it’s a living hell! Let this be a good lesson to our leaders and keep our fingers cross that it’s not the path that we are heading to!

No comments: