THE Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) has introduced stiffer penalties on exporters delaying the remittance of proceeds to the domestic market amid indications that nearly $400 million is locked beyond the country’s borders through externalisation.
Report by Bernard Mpofu
According to a central bank notice issued over the weekend, a maximum of $150 penalty fee on each export form will be levied on exporters keeping export proceeds offshore for more than 180 days while exporters who exceed 90 days, but below 120 days will be levied $10.
“The Reserve Bank has noted with great concern that some exporters are unnecessarily keeping export proceeds offshore and this has resulted in a staggering overdue balance of $360 million as at February 4 2013.
“This delinquent behaviour by such exporters has contributed to the prevailing liquidity crunch in the market,” RBZ senior division chief in charge of exchange control Morris Mpofu said in a statement.
“Exporters (merchandise traders, service providers, tourism operators and cross-border transport operators) are advised that holding of export proceeds offshore beyond the statutory period of 90 days from the date of export without exchange control authority, is regarded as externalisation and, therefore, a serious violation of exchange control regulations. In order to curb this externalisation of export proceeds, exporters advised that administrative penalties on overdue exports have been reviewed.”
Delays in bringing the funds to the local banking system through the central bank had worsened the liquidity constraints on the domestic market.
Subdued non-debt creating capital inflows such as foreign direct investment and portfolio investment according to the RBZ have also worsened the liquidity constraints as the country’s balance of payment remains in a deficit estimated at $498 million.
Following the introduction of multiple currency in 2009, the country has relied heavily on exports and foreign direct investment for broad money supply growth.
The apex bank said it would carry out random inspections on commercial and merchant banks to ensure that exporters and cross-border transport operators were charged the stipulated fees for accessing the export documentation.