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No respite on lending rates


The banking public will have to wait a while longer before they could enjoy meaningful deposit rates and low lending rates as the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) is yet to finalise the matter four years after the introduction of the multiple currency regime.

In his monetary policy statement on Tuesday, RBZ governor Gideon Gono said the central bank had over the years advocated and adopted policies that promote market determined bank charges and interest rates for the sector’s products as well as services.

Gono said the central bank continued to receive complaints from the transacting public regarding the high service charges and lending rates being levied by banking institutions and low interest rates payable on savings and current accounts.

“As monetary authorities, we urge banks to rationalise their interest rate structures and bank charges by reducing lending rates and bank charges so as to encourage the banking public to increase deposits,” he said.

Official figures show that interest rates on deposits during the first three months were averaging about 2,65%, while nominal lending rates ranged from 8% to 30%.

Finance minister Tendai Biti in his fiscal policy review last month said the low savings rates were raising the opportunity cost of holding deposits outside the banking system, thereby complicating efforts to mobilise savings for investment and economic growth.

Gono said in the absence of self-regulation, he would be left with no alternative, but to take appropriate action on banks ignoring the warning.
He said the RBZ and the Bankers’ Association of Zimbabwe would develop a standardised format of disclosure requirements for bank charges and interest rates.

“Banking institutions shall be required to publish their charges in the prescribed disclosure format on a quarterly basis, and a consolidated report of banking institutions shall be published on the Reserve Bank website on a quarterly basis,” he said.

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