ZIMBABWE yesterday broke a new record by being the only country in the world with a national budget running into quadrillions (15 zeroes), reflecting its highest inflation on the globe, and possibly making another dramatic entry in the Guin

ness Book of World Records

Finance minister Samuel Mumbengegwi presented a $7,8 quadrillion budget to parliament amid disbelief among MPs and the public about the government’s chaotic fiscal policy.

Mumbengegwi, whose budget concept and delivery were widely described as “pathetic”, dramatised his failure to measure up to the task by even failing to read budget figures before him. The minister pronounced the figures wrongly before giving up when it became clear he was mixing up things.

MPs laughed while the public watched in disbelief.

Mumbengegwi’s budget was $7 840 000 000 000 000. According to the US weights and measures system — which Zimbabwe uses in monetary issues — this figure is $7,8 quadrillions.

However, if converted to the US dollars, it comes down to a mere US$5,3 billion at the Old Mutual Implied Rate of US$1: Z$1,5 million. If the official rate of $30 000 is used the figure jumps to a massive $261 billion but this does not reflect the real value of the budget.

In US measurements, figures with six zeroes are a million, nine zeroes is a billion, 12 zeroes is a trillion, 15 zeroes is a quadrillion.

The next figure after this is a quintillion (18 zeroes) followed by a sextillion (21 zeroes) and it goes up to googol for 100 zeroes and then infinite after 600 zeroes. No country has a quadrillion in the world today.

Due to hyperinflation, Zimbabwe’s budgets could soon deteriorate to quintillions. Officially, Zimbabwe has the highest inflation of more than 14 000%.

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