The Sunday News
Debra Matabvu, Harare Bureau
The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) has increased monthly cash imports to US$150 million from US$100 million, as efforts to ease cash shortages in the country continue.
The central bank said it would continue to work on measures to improve the availability of cash, but emphasised the need for Zimbabweans to use plastic money when transacting. Last week, most banks were dispensing cash with some depositors managing to withdraw up to $300 in bond notes. RBZ Governor Dr John Mangudya last week said the improvement in foreign currency was attributable to the support from Afreximbank; and exports of gold and tobacco.
“We are going to continue providing cash as well as promoting a cashless society. This week alone (last week) we injected US$25 million and next week (this week) we are putting US$30 million, so this month we are saying we have increased it from US$100 million to US$150 million. The Afreximbank has been very supportive, they approved disbursement of funds into the economy. There has also been the increase in gold and tobacco exports which have seen the increase in foreign currency in the country.”
According to the RBZ quarterly statement released in March, cumulative gold output stood at 7 741 kg, signifying a 53,5 percent from 5 044 kg produced in the comparable period in 2017. Statistics from the Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board released in the first week of July also show that the volume of tobacco sold so far is a 32 percent increase from 167,7 million kg worth $492,3 million traded during the comparable period last year.
In addition, out of the $3,5 billion in exports, $2,2 billion came from shipment of goods, $630 million from remittances and $588 million from loan proceeds. The RBZ has imported $600 million since the beginning of the year in order to ease cash shortages, as well as meet rising demand from recovering industries.
Afreximbank has been pivotal in supporting the local economy. Most notably, the bank’s president and board of directors’ chairperson, Dr Okey Oramah, met President Emmerson Mnangagwa 19 days after his inauguration and announced a $1,5 billion economic stabilisation package that was meant to revive the productive sectors of the economy.
President Mnangagwa has been employing various measures to increase cash circulation in the country. Recently Government put a $10 000 cap on cash holdings by individuals, as the new administration seeks to bolster deposits and clamp down on a thriving currency black market.