THE Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe has instructed local banks to stop offering overdrafts to customers seeking to settle their foreign obligations, as it battles to control a worsening foreign currency crisis.
Central bank governor, John Mangudya, said banks have been stopped from offering overdraft facilities for cross-border transactions.
Mangudya said: “We do not want foreign purchases backed by overdrafts. We stopped banks from doing it. What we want is to have these foreign payments funded by money in your account.
He said banks that wanted to support their customers “should arrange lines of credit for their customers”. “We need discipline,” he said, while addressing a public dialogue on the cash crisis in the capital last week.
THE Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) has introduced a five percent reward to whistle blowers who report individuals and businesses involved in cash hoarding, selling or engaging in illicit dealings.
In a statement, RBZ Governor Dr John Mangudya said information provided to the bank would be kept in confidence between the whistle blower and the bank.
“To promote and enforce compliance with best practice and anti-money laundering rules and regulations, the bank is pleased to advise that it has established dedicated hotline numbers for the public to report individuals and firms or traders that may be involved in cash hoarding, selling or abusing or externalising of cash, or any related misdemeanour,” he said. “A reward equivalent to five percent of the reported and recovered cash amount will be offered by the bank.”
The Credit Reference Bureau, a system which contains credit history report of a prospective borrower before granting credit is anticipated to go live on Monday, Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe John Mangudya has said.
This came after a Czech Republic credit checker, Creditinfo was in April last year awarded the tender by the apex bank to set up the system at a cost of $1,8 million with a view to improve credit risk management in the country’s financial sector.
“We are quite happy with progress we are now going live on Monday. Most banks have finalised giving us data to put in the system. They (Creditinfo) set up the system we have sent our team for training and now they know how to operate the system. So they (Creditinfo) will host the system,” Mangudya said at the sidelines of the Macro-economic and Financial Management Institute of Eastern And Southern Africa (MEFMI) breakfast meeting in Harare yesterday.
The credit reference bureau is anticipated to improve the bank’s non-performing loans ratio which declined to 7,87% as at 31 December 2016 from a peak of 20,45% courtesy of the disposal of loans to the Zimbabwe Asset Management Company (Zamco).
Zimbabwe’s foreign currency situation has significantly improved due to increased inflows from agriculture and mining, with the central bank allocating at least $100 million to banks weekly since the second week of April to meet critical foreign payments and settling outstanding obligations.
The increased inflows of foreign exchange were also supported by draw-downs from the nostro stabilisation facility availed by the Afreximbank.
The allocations, since the second week of April this year, entailed funded bank accounts only. This has significantly reduced the real demand for foreign exchange and reduced the foreign payments backlog by more than 50 percent to $185 million.
RBZ governor Dr John Mangudya said the allocations went towards meeting various foreign currency demands that include essential imports and foreign payments, inputs for industrial production and discharging outstanding foreign payments obligations.
THE Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) has said a number of agencies are collecting revenue, but not remitting it to Treasury, a development that has left the financially-troubled government hamstrung.
Speaking at a business forum organised by the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries in collaboration with the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair in Bulawayo recently, RBZ deputy governor, Kupukile Mlambo said the apex bank was fretting over a lot of agencies which are collecting revenue, but keeping it for their own use, instead of forwarding it to Treasury.
“We have lot of agencies that collect money in this country. The police, the parks and so forth, but a lot of these agencies don’t remit those monies to Treasury. We need to deal with those kinds of issues. But at the same time they need an allocation from the Treasury,” Mlambo said.
“I know that the minister has announced many times in the National Budget that, especially, the police and the parks should remit everything [they have collected]. I am yet to see their accounts. So that’s the challenge.”
In 2014, suspended Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) commissioner-general Gershem Pasi told Parliament that the Zimbabwe Republic Police and the Zimbabwe National Roads Authority (Zinara) were not remitting all the money they collect to Treasury.
He said the police, for instance, were collecting between $3 million and $7 million at roadblocks monthly, money which never finds its way to Treasury at a time the government is financially hamstrung.
His statement, however, unsettled the police with spokesperson, senior assistant commissioner Charity Charamba angrily saying the claim “is a big falsehood, which is intended to whip public emotions against the police in pursuance of an obvious agenda”.
She claimed the police only retained $1 million each month.
ZIMBABWE expects to secure about $2 billion in external lines of credit from three preferred creditors once Government clears the outstanding arrears to foreign lenders, an official said.
The country has tabled a $1.7 billion debt clearance plan to the World Bank and the Africa Development Bank (AfDB), which has already been approved.
The clearing of the arrears is expected to reduce country risk and open fresh avenues for credit from external private lenders.
Zimbabwe’s three preferred creditors are the African Development Bank (AfDB), World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Last October Zimbabwe paid $107,9 million it owed to IMF. The AfDB and World Bank are owed a combined $1,7 billion. A preferred creditor is a creditor receiving a preferential right to payment upon the debtor’s bankruptcy under applicable insolvency laws.
Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) Deputy Governor Dr Khupukile Mlambo said re-engagement with the international financers was crucial in attracting lines of credit and turning the economy around.
BUILDERS Home retail shop was yesterday fined $17 000 by a Harare magistrate for wilfully not banking cash.
The retail shop, which was represented by its administrator Charles Mutseka, pleaded guilty to contravening sections of the Bank Use Promotion Act when it appeared before regional magistrate Hosiah Mujaya.
However, Builders Home will pay $15 000 after magistrate Mujaya suspended $2 000 on condition that the company will not be found guilty of the same charges in the next five years.
According to the State, on January 14 this year, Builders Home was served with a disclosure order by Tongesayi Murape, a representative of the central bank, requiring the company to submit returns on cash sales and deposits on a daily basis as required by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) Act.
ZIMBABWE has met all the conditions precedent to the repayment of debt arrears to the World Bank and the African Development Bank (AfDB), Finance and Economic Development Minister Patrick Chinamasa has said.
In an update on the country’s re-engagement programme with the international finance bodies, he said clearing foreign debt was crucial in addressing country risk and attracting fresh lines of credit to oil economic growth.
The positive development comes after the country successfully settled its $107 million arrears to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on October 20, 2016. The AfDB and World Bank are both owed a combined $1.7 billion while the country also owes other multilateral institutions, bilateral official lenders and external private creditors.
“The terms and conditions of the facilities that the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe has put in place to repay the debt arrears to the World Bank and AfDB have been scrutinised and adjudged by the affected International Financial Institutions (IFIs) and found to be reflective of current market conditions with financing terms similar to market transactions recently concluded by several sub-Saharan African countries during 2016 and 2017,” said Minister Chinamasa.
THE Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe says the ratio of cash to deposits in banks has come down from a high of 43,5 percent in 2009 to just under 5 percent, with electronic transfers picking up the huge difference as most retailers now get most of their payments by swipe card and banking App transfers.
RBZ deputy governor Kupukile Mlambo told delegates at a business conference at the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair yesterday that as Zimbabwe moves towards a near total electronic transfer market only 2 percent of banks’ liquid assets were in banknotes and coins.
However, the move towards a pure electronic economy is hampered by the fact that few rural retailers can cope outside a cash economy, with networks not always working, and many informal small traders probably need cash. Even ordinary urban people usually need a trickle of cash for combi fares and the like although mobile money could take a greater share of these transactions, as they do in Kenya.
Former Industry and International Trade minister Nkosana Moyo has slammed bond notes, arguing the surrogate currency is “not the answer” to the country’s deepening cash crisis.
“The answer is not bond notes,” Moyo said in an interview with Capital26free, a podcast network station.
The respected economist — famed for publicly speaking out against attacks on businesses and factories by war veterans and later uncharacteristically resigning from President Robert Mugabe’s Cabinet about a year after his appointment — said “the answer is to stop the haemorrhage of where our money went and continues to go. Once we stop that, the issue of bond notes will not even arise”.
“ . . . somebody is responsible for our money disappearing from the banks and they need to give us an honest answer,” Moyo said.
“When we dollarised, we literally — all of us without exception — zeroed our savings to nothing. So every single dollar that is in my account, I earned from that day onwards . . . where did it go?” he queried.
“The starting point is you need to ask the banks, because the banks have not been honest with us, where did our money go? Because if I put my money in the bank and it’s not there, it must have gone somewhere. It’s either the bank lent that money recklessly and lost it; or they gave it to somebody else. They need to account for it and that’s our starting point,” Moyo said.
THE International Monetary Fund (IMF) says Zimbabwe requires a comprehensive policy package to retrieve the economy from the woods, instead of seeking salvation in bond notes.
IMF African Department director, Abebe Aemro Selassie told journalists on Sunday that a holistic package of reforms was needed to get Zimbabwe out of the crisis.
“There’s a limited amount of foreign exchange inflows coming in and no monetary policy tool. So, they are in a difficult circumstance right now. We think that, going down this one [bond] note route, in and on itself, will not address the challenges that the country has.
So, it’s very important to have a more comprehensive policy package, which also addresses a lot of the fiscal challenges that the country faces, a lot of the structural reforms that have to be done,” he said.
Selassie had been asked to comment on the bond note concept.
BAKERS have hinted on an increase in the price of bread and other flour products following a rise in the price of bread flour by between 10 and 25 percent as a result of nostro liquidity challenges.
The nostro liquidity challenges have caused banks to sell euros, British pounds and South African rand to pay United States dollar invoices resulting in exchange losses and high service fees totalling 12 percent.
This has forced the National Bakers Association of Zimbabwe and the Grain Millers Association of Zimbabwe to request an urgent meeting with the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe to find a solution to the challenges.
In order to continue to sustain the current bread prices and create their stabilisation in the short to medium term, NBAZ and GMAZ proposed that the central bank avails $43,25 million to settle all outstanding wheat invoices.
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