The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) will now hold 80 percent of all tobacco receipts for distribution to other banks while the receiving bank shall retain 20 percent.
This follows cash problems at the tobacco auction floors where farmers are failing to access their cash, with banks paying out $500 instead of the $10 000 limit set by the Central Bank.
According to sources in the banking sector, the RBZ held a meeting with banking institutions on Tuesday where the decision was agreed on. However, the official communication is yet to be released.
In the meeting, it was indicated that at least $150 million was received by Stanbic, StanChart, Barclays and MBCA in through tobacco sales in the last two weeks. In addition to that, RBZ has imported $30 million cash in the last two weeks, but still banks have struggled to pay the farmers.
The RBZ recently said it was engaging financial institutions with a view to ensure cash is spread and efficiently distributed to all branches across the country for the convenience of farmers.
Tobacco receipts have to date grossed more than $200 million but cash problems at the tobacco auction floors and the wider financial sector continue to persist. All banks finance tobacco yet few benefit from the export receipts.
RBZ governor Dr John Mangudya has in the past said: “There are a lot of distribution inefficiencies within the banking sector as some of the banks do not have major exporting clients on their books. The RBZ will act as a distribution agent and ensure that all banks are funded.”
Recently the RBZ also directed that 50 percent of all new foreign exchange receipts from the export of goods and services denominated in US dollars shall be transferred to the central bank immediately on receipt of funds with the remaining funds credited into the exporter’s FCA in US dollars.
Meanwhile, Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development Minister Joseph Made said farmers will continue to receive payment from sale of tobacco in US dollars.
“Growers will access all their proceeds from tobacco sales, in United States dollars. Until such times that the monetary authorities resolve the matter otherwise, for the tobacco farmers, it is the United States dollar,” said Made.
Zimbabwe is experiencing cash shortages owing to a number of reasons including depletion of bank nostro-balances and failure of the multi-currency system to function as a result of pre-dominance of the United States dollar.
The US dollar has virtually substituted all the other currencies including the South African rand, the pula and the euro that were in use at the adoption of the multi-currency regime in 2009.
To ease the cash shortages, the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe recently announced a cocktail of measures that include introduction of bond notes which are expected to go into circulation soon.
The bond notes, a continuation of the bond coins being used at the moment, would be backed by a $200 million Africa Export and Import Bank nostro support and export facility.
Proposed introduction of the bond notes has been met with mixed reactions, with some sections alleging that it was a way of returning the Zimbabwe dollar through the back door.