HARARE, April 21 (Reuters)Zimbabwe’s economy could grow 6% this year, better than a previous forecast for 3.8% growth, thanks to a strong performance by agriculture and easing power shortages, Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube said on Friday.

“We are saying 3.8% growth is an underestimate. The growth should be higher than that and close to 6%,” Ncube told an online briefing.

In a cabinet statement this week, the government said it expected to harvest 2.3 million tonnes of maize this year, a 58% jump from the previous season driven by favourable rains.

“What we mainly did this week was to recognise the strong recovery in the agricultural sector where we have seen 54% growth, at least in the grains sub-sector. We are seeing a 35% growth in the non-food sector,” Ncube said.

The minister said improved generation at the Hwange coal plant and the Kariba hydroelectric station should help improve electricity availability.

He downplayed the likelihood of the government overspending given this year’s general election, saying the target was still for the overall fiscal deficit to be 1.5% of gross domestic product, the same as forecast in November.

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(Reporting by Nyasha Chingono; editing by Alexander Winning and Jason Neely)

((alexander.winning@tr.com))

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