Bureaux de change disburse US$25,95m under US$50 facility

The Chronicle

Oliver Kazunga, Senior Business Reporter
OVER 465 000 people have since September last year bought US$25,95 million, from bureaux de change under the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe’s prescribed maximum of US$50 per week facility.

With a view to promote financial inclusion and access to forex for small value transactions, the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) through its Monetary Policy Committee (MPC), in August last year approved the sale of foreign currency at the prevailing official exchange rate to ordinary walk-in customers by any registered bureau de change.

Access to foreign currency from bureaux de change by ordinary citizens is on the basis that individuals produce their identity particulars and bank cards while charges and commissions levied by the bureau de change should not exceed 10 percent per transaction.

Speaking by telephone from Harare last Friday, RBZ Governor Dr John Mangudya said the facility for small transactions requiring payment in hard currency by the public was continuing this year to enable ordinary Zimbabweans meet their medical and fuel needs.

“We have disbursed US$25,95 million cumulatively, serving 465 332 people since September last year up to yesterday (last Thursday) and this year again, we are continuing to avail forex for small value transactions,” he said.

Previously, there were no provisions for the general public, especially those seeking to do domestic transactions in forex, without passports or receipts for external payments, to buy US dollars from bureaux de change, resorting only to the open market, if need be.

The intervention by the RBZ was against the backdrop of a widening gap between the official exchange and black market foreign exchange rates, making it difficult for ordinary citizens to afford small value transactions that require hard currency.

“The objective of this facility is to ensure that people can have access to small transactions for their medical or fuel where they are required to pay in foreign currency,” said Dr Mangudya.

Last week, the official exchange rate was pegged at US$1: ZWL$112,82, which is inordinately lower than the parallel market’s ZWL$220.

He said the Apex Bank was aware of some unethical individuals and businesses in the financial services market who were abusing and manipulating currency.

“We are also aware that some people are abusing the facility, so we are working on some measures so that the facility is not abused.

“If caught, they will be blacklisted,” said Dr Mangudya.

A few weeks ago, RBZ said it was investigating allegations of currency manipulation by some business entities as well as breaches of the Bank Use Promotion Act.

The entities were manipulating currency by setting their Zimbabwe dollar prices to parallel market rates with some retailers using the illegal exchange rates ranging between US$1: ZWL$180 and ZWL$210.

More than 40 companies were last year found guilty of abusing the foreign currency auction system and were given civil penalties and barred from participating at the auction platform until they pay.

Towards the end of May last year, the Government announced Statutory Instrument 127 of 2021 Presidential Powers (Temporary Measures), which states that companies that abuse forex obtained at the auction system could be heavily penalised by having civil penalties levied.

The civil penalties can be imposed after an investigation by the Apex Bank, and because they are civil penalties, the standard of proof is on the balance of probabilities, rather than the higher level proof beyond reasonable doubt required in criminal activities . [email protected]

Article Source: The Chronicle

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