‘Banks cash in on civil servants bonus’

SOME local banks are reportedly cashing in on civil servants’ United States dollar bonuses through compulsory liquidation of their 13th cheque into local currency.

This comes at a time when there is frustration among civil servants over failure to withdraw their US dollar bonuses either due to long queues or banks not having cash.

Civil servants started receiving their bonuses in US dollars this week capped at US$700, with those earning above the limit set to receive the balance in local currency.

The Finance ministry yesterday warned banks against converting US dollar bonuses or levying unnecessary service charges to allow the civil servants to access their bonuses in full.

“It has come to the attention of Treasury that some banks are compulsorily liquidating civil servants bonus payments and thereby forcibly paying them in domestic currency,” the Finance ministry said in a statement.

“In addition, banks have resorted to making arbitrary charges against the bonus payments, with some taking significant portions of the wages in the form of bank charges.”

The ministry said the practices by banking institutions were counterproductive.

“Both practices take away the intended benefits of the bonus payments. We wish to advise that all civil servants should be allowed to withdraw their bonus payments in full US dollar subject only to existing daily cash withdrawal limits set by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe,” Treasury said.

“Such bonus payment amounts are to be made in full without deduction or levy. Government and banks will agree a structure for bank charges for these specific amounts which charges must be kept to a minimum.”

Farai Masimu, a teacher who spoke to NewsDay Weekender, could not hide his anger after part of his money was gobbled by bank service charges.

“I didn’t get my full bonus amount. I only got $180. The rest was lost to service charges, as I was told by the bank authorities,” Masimu said. -Newsday

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