* Law to set up SWF expected to be ready by February
* Revamping govt infrastructure a government priority
* Chinamasa says govt mulls international bond for mining
HARARE, Oct 30 Zimbabwe plans to craft a law to
set up a sovereign wealth fund by next February - but it may not
have any money at first as the government desperately needs to
develop the country's crumbling infrastructure, the finance
Patrick Chinamasa also said on Wednesday that the government
would consider a first international bond issue to help finance
its mining sector.
The southern African country has previously said it wanted
to create a sovereign wealth fund to buy shares in foreign-owned
companies, including mines, under President Robert Mugabe's
controversial black economic empowerment programme.
"Legislation to set up the sovereign wealth fund will be
ready next year first quarter, February latest. But we will not
operate it due to budget constraints," Chinamasa told a forum
organised by a local media group.
"The money that we propose to use to set up the fund, we are
going to use to bridge the infrastructure deficit," he said.
Chinamasa said Zimbabwe was desperate to revamp its ageing
infrastructure, which includes electricity-generating plants,
roads and water treatment facilities, which have been neglected
for the last 20 years.
The International Monetary Fund and the World Bank have
shunned Zimbabwe over its non-payment of arrears, while Western
donors cite election fraud and human rights abuses by Mugabe as
reasons for withholding aid. Mugabe denies the charges.
Seventy percent of the country's budget is consumed by
salaries, leaving very little for infrastructure development.
Zimbabwe has the world's second-largest platinum reserves
and several mineral deposits, including gold, diamonds, chrome
and coal, but mining has been starved of investment as foreign
investors fret over Mugabe's policies.
"An international bond to finance mining or any of our
critical sectors is something that we will consider, but we
would need to assess how it would work and if it will not place
an additional burden on the (country's finances)," Chinamasa
(Reporting by MacDonald Dzirutwe; Editing by Hugh Lawson)