A NUMBER of Bulawayo companies have not been allocated foreign currency for raw material imports since last year from their banks, as priority is being given to Harare-based companies, an industry official has claimed.
BY MTHANDAZO NYONI
Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce Matabeleland chapter chairman, Golden Muoni told NewsDay in an interview last week that companies outside Harare were being short-changed by financial institutions.
“As we are in this environment, where there are a lot of shortages of foreign currency, there is need for us to engage the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) as business, periodically, from the national point of view to say: ‘Look, we have companies here that are on the waiting list we don’t know when we are going to get the priority’, because we have got different priorities in every sector,” he said.
Muoni said the issue of priority was affecting companies outside Harare because they do not have fair representation.
“So, when people sit together in a boardroom as a committee and then decide that this one is not a priority, this one is a priority. It’s difficult. Now, from the regional point of view, we are mostly affected because all our banks’ head offices are in Harare,” he said.
“Decisions are made in Harare. We don’t know how our representation there is. Is there any fairness in terms of distribution of whatever foreign currency is there? Are we not being robbed as people because of all our banks here, we give them instructions? Instructions go to the head office. Their head office then goes to RBZ with our representations.”
Muoni said there was a lot of red tape and opaqueness in foreign currency allocation.
“You submit (your application) to your branch, your branch takes it to their head office. There is a lot of red tape, which needs to be understood to say how best we can be helped because I have had quite a number of engagements here with companies,” he said. “They are complaining. Some are saying it’s almost one year now and they still haven’t received any cent, some six months no payment, no nothing from their banks and can we justify that? We are saying how best can we equally benefit like the Harare companies?”
According to the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industry 2017 survey, Matabeleland and Mashonaland were the hardest hit regions to manufacturers in accessing financing, describing the process as being “financial crises”.
Waiting periods for foreign currency ranges, on average, from less than two weeks to over three months from banks, with most manufacturers complaining of the latter.