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RBZ dishes out US$6 million to 130 000 citizens

by Staff Reporter
29 Oct 2021 at 07:11hrs | Views
THE Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) has disbursed more than US$6 million to close to 130 000 people following Government's decision last month to promote financial inclusion and access to forex for small value transactions by members of the public.

The forex is accessible through registered bureau de change and selected banks.

Beneficiaries go to the financial institution where they produce a national identity card and buy the prescribed amount per week at the prevailing RBZ auction exchange rate including a 10 percent commission.

Previously, there were no provisions for the general public to access forex and most people were resorting to buying forex on the black market.

This week's official RBZ auction exchange rate is at US$1-$97,1 while on the black-market the rate is between $180 and $200 to US$1.

People are required to produce a national identity card when buying the forex. The intervention by Government comes on the backdrop of a widening gap between the official exchange and black-market foreign exchange rates, which made it difficult for ordinary citizens to afford small value transactions that require hard currency.

Speaking during the just-ended 2022 pre-budget seminar in Victoria Falls, RBZ Governor Dr John Mangudya said as of last weekend, US$6,4 million had been disbursed to 128 814 people countrywide.

The RBZ governor said the facility was introduced to enable members of the public to access forex for basic needs.

"The issue of US$50 for individuals, the purpose of the policy was to ensure that there is foreign currency available to individuals for those small transactions that require foreign currency like fuel. The whole idea was in good faith and as of today (last weekend) you may want to know that we have disbursed US$6,4 million under that US$50 scheme so far to 128 814 people," said Dr Mangudya.

There have been concerns that some beneficiaries spin the money on the parallel market. Dr John Mangudya Dr Mangudya said reports getting to his office suggests that the money was being put to good use.

He however, said those abusing the facility will be prosecuted. Dr Mangudya said plans are underway to introduce plastic forex money for the facility.

"If all these (128 814) are crooks, then I don't know what to say because I have heard people who have phoned me, these are elderly persons above 50 years who don't join the queue, they phoned saying they can now access money for their medication and I feel so happy.

"I am surprised which members are you representing because I have been phoned. But maybe what we have agreed is to improve by making it e-money. So, we have asked the bureau de change who are now working to ensure that we improve in terms of dispersing this amount," he said. Dr Mangudya said the Central Bank strives to ensure that there is more forex on the market because the more there is, the less parallel market activity. He said Zimbabwe's monetary challenges are a result of "monopolies and oligopoly" as there is lack of competition.

"But if those people are going there intending to sell the money on parallel market, those ones should be arrested. Our idea was that those who are genuine will go to a bureau de change, get foreign currency and buy fuel and go home," he said.

Victoria Falls resident Mr Tonderai Mutasa said he had accessed the money once. "I have managed to access the forex once and I used my withdrawal to buy fuel. There was no queue on the day I went there and I think people still don't believe there is such as facility," he said.

In Bulawayo , everyday in the early morning hours people crowd outside banking halls in the city centre forming snaking queues to buy foreign currency from the few registered bureaux de change and banks that sell hard currency.

Others have actually resorted to braving the midnight chilly weather by sleeping outside the banking halls to earn a pole position in the line.

Sadly, despite Government's goodwill, the facility has been marred by corrupt tendencies and acts of malpractice, which have resulted in money changers manipulating the system to access forex on a daily basis using different bank cards.

In some cases, illegal forex dealers, who are reportedly working in cahoots with some bureaux de change employees, are playing "middlemen" to other desperate clients in return for a fee.

A Chronicle new crew yesterday visited selected bureaux de change offering the facility and observed people milling outside the banking halls waiting to be served.

People who spoke to the news crews said for the past three days, they were failing to access foreign currency due to network challenges.

Mr Andile Mkhwananzi said since Sunday, he has been sleeping in the queue to access foreign currency without success.

"For the past four days, I have been sleeping in the queue hoping I would be able to buy forex, but they have been telling us that the system is down because of network. For some of us who pay rent in US dollars, we have no choice but to spend days in the queues," he said.

"My appeal to the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe is that they should consider increasing the number of financial institutions so that we don't have these long queues." Ms Netsai Moyo of Emganwini said they were struggling to access the weekly US$50 yet foreign currency dealers were buying the hard currency daily using multiple bank cards belong to different people.

Source - Chronicle