BY BLESSED MHLANGA
FOREIGN currency parallel market traders are unfazed by the introduction of the interbank market auction of the real time gross settlement dollars (RTGS$) and have continued trading on the streets without batting an eyelid.
United States $100 is fetching $370 RTGS$ or bond note on the black market, while on the interbank market it is trading at 1:2,5 creating a loophole for speculators to take advantage of the gaps.
Illegal money changers, said the rate was not affected by the pronouncements made by Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor John Mangudya (RBZ) in his recent monetary policy statement.
“This thing about banks is not an issue for us; they don’t have the money and we will continue to supply both industry and individuals with the much-needed foreign exchange, both in RTGS$ and United States dollars, giving the most attractive rate and efficient trade,” said one illegal trader.
Banks have already started selling the US dollars at the opening rate, however, using a strict vetting process, which excludes ordinary people and cross-border traders.
“We are only selling to people with invoices that prove they want to import, so if you just come in and try to buy US dollars, we are not selling to individuals, they will have to go to the bureau de change because banks won’t cater for that,” said a senior banker who refused to be named.
The banker said the parallel market can’t be shut down because of the strict applications that are needed at the bank.
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“We have to remember that the black market has been alive even in the times of Jesus when he walked into the temple. You can’t close that part, but we provide a cheaper and safer way so far for industry to fund their operations,” he said.
Former Economic Development minister, Tapiwa Mashakada said the only way the interbank market could outstage the black market is if RBZ keeps its hands off the dealers’ table.
“The exchange rate of 1:2,5 is the opening float, which will fluctuate daily depending on supply and demand. It must be allowed to float and any attempt to artificially fix it will backfire and forex trading transactions will relocate to the parallel market where the exchange rate will be market determined,” he said.
Speculators have already indicated that they would be buying USD at 1: 2,5 at the bank rate and sell it on the parallel market on transfer rate of 1:4 before going back to the bank to buy more US dollars.