The Ministry of Finance is engaged in talks with Youth Development, Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment minister Saviour Kasukuwere to come up with agreeable thresholds for foreign banks for them to comply with empowerment regulations.
The move comes days after Kasukuwere threatened to revoke the licences of subsidiaries of Standard Bank Group, Barclays PLC and Standard Chartered, among other foreign-owned firms, if they failed to submit acceptable empowerment plans. Mining companies are required, to shed at least 51% of their shareholding to locals.
Kasukuwere last week gave the banks two weeks to comply with the indigenisation regulations or face closure, drawing the ire of the central bank.
“As Ministry of Finance we met Stanbic, Barclays and Standard bank yesterday (Monday). We have made submissions to the indigenisation ministry,” said Finance Minister Tendai Biti
“We are still negotiating for thresholds so that we can come up with one view. Banks are different from mines. Mines sit on capital, banks are conveyers of capital. Naturally a different approach needs to be recognised.”
Responding to threats by Kasukuwere, Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor Gideon Gono said such threats were damaging to the banking sector as witnessed by the panic caused by the statement.
“The Reserve Bank, which is the legal authority to issue or take away banking licences to operators in the banking industry wishes to advise all stakeholders that it has neither given notice to nor does it have any immediate or foreseeable intention to withdraw operating licences from any registered financial institution under its supervision,” said Gono.
“The position must, however, not be misconstrued to imply that the bank condones or encourages non-compliance with the law by any institution operating under its purview. The law of the land is the law and it must be complied with.”
In his supplement to the July 2011 monetary policy statement Gono said the ongoing indigenisation and economic empowerment drive should empower locals in a manner that preserves and grows the stock of already existing wealth, while at the same time increasing their participation in the various economic sectors.