BY MOSES MATENGA
MPs have raised alarm over delays in foreign currency payments to companies under the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe auction facility saying it was taking up to two months for them to get their dues.
The central bank last year introduced the foreign currency auction system which was hailed as a game-changer in alleviating shortages of forex and boosting transparency and efficiency in the foreign currency market.
During Wednesday’s National Assembly question-and-answer session, MPs accused government of lying that it had disbursed money to the affected companies, adding that some of them had gone for a month without getting their dues.
Harare North MP Rusty Markham (MDC Alliance) said: “Last week, we were told by the Deputy Minister of Finance (Clemence Chiduwa) that all the money due from the auction system had been paid. Has this, indeed, happened, and have the banks paid their customers? What is government policy to ensure that customers are given the allocations they applied for?”
Markham said in his research with big banks, he discovered that they were eight weeks behind in the allocation of foreign currency through the facility.
“As a policy, could the Minister of Finance (Mthuli Ncube) please check as to what is happening with the system, because in trading, if you wait for eight weeks and your money is taken a week before, that is nine weeks, which is two months that your money has been taken out of your cashflow before you receive the foreign currency. I am not blaming anyone, but all I am asking is, as a policy, could government check what the issue is behind these delays by nine weeks?”
Leader of government business in the National Assembly, Justice minister Ziyambi Ziyambi in response said government policy was that those accessing the funds through the facility would be notified by their banks.
“It is the bank that then proceeds to ensure that you get your allocation. Should the member be experiencing problems with that process of ensuring that the allocated foreign currency is accessed, I think it is a matter that can be taken up through the relevant banking channels to the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe,” he said
But Dzivarasekwa MP Edwin Mushoriwa (MDC Alliance) said government had given the impression that all was in order in the foreign currency auction system.
“The Minister of Finance had indicated that everything is in order, but we have just confirmed with the bank that the larger banks are eight weeks late and the smaller banks are four weeks in arrears in terms of receiving the allocated money from the auction system. Can the minister explain why those delays are there?”
Ziyambi responded: “Again, my response is that the bankers are the ones that are in communication with the RBZ, which releases the funds. They are best placed to explain what will be happening.”
Speaker of the National Assembly Jacob Mudenda ruled that the Finance minister should investigate the problems and ensure corrective action is taken to deal with the delays.
- Follow Moses on Twitter Moses @mmatenga