Only pensioners, the elderly, those living with disability and people needing foreign currency for medical bills will be able to continue buying US$50 a week from bureaux de change with everyone else dropped from the system as the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe moves against abusers.
In his 2022 Monetary Policy Statement yesterday, RBZ Governor Dr Mangudya said the facility had fallen prey to some members of the public who were now buying and selling foreign currency instead of buying it for specific needs.
“The bank availed the US$50 facility to assist members of the public to access foreign currency for small domestic purchases and payments at the official exchange rate through bureaux de change which are allowed to charge up to 10 percent over the cost of funds.
“The bank has, however, noted with concern the abuses of this facility by some members of the public. In this regard, the bank is refining the US$50 facility, with immediate effect, to limit it to the vulnerable members of the society, that is pensioners, senior citizens, people living with disability, and those requiring forex for medical purposes,” he said.
The initiative had been put in place to cushion people from punitive black market exchange rates and to promote financial inclusion and access to foreign exchange for small value transactions.
However, supply outstripped demand, prompting some rent-seeking behaviour from illegal money changers, as they moved to benefit from a porous system. Members of the public gave mixed reactions to The Herald during yesterday with the elderly welcoming the decision by RBZ saying this would reduce congestion bureaux de change.
“We welcome this initiative because as the elderly we are no longer able to spend most of the time in these queues with the youth, but the Government should, however, increase the amount to US$150 because the amount which was being provided cannot meet the estimated basic living costs for individuals,” said Gogo Nyoni.
Emmanuel Kuvarangi noted that the decision by RBZ was a positive one, citing corrupt tendencies by bureaux de change employees who made sure only their relatives and friends benefitted.
“We are resorting to the black market because of corruption since workers were making money through the bureau de change using other people’s identity cards, be it their relatives or those just queuing outside for money,” said Mr Karuvangi.
However, some bemoaned the new arrangement saying it would fuel inflation as this meant the minority needing foreign currency would have to return to the black market.
“We are not happy because we were also looking forward to receiving those US$50 from the bureau de change, avoiding the black market rate which is rising frequently,” said Douglas Murambatsvina. Herald.