BY VENERANDA LANGA
FINANCE minister Mthuli Ncube yesterday vowed that government will not take the Zimdollar out of circulation despite pleas by MPs across the political divide that it had brought suffering to Zimbabweans.
Responding to Rushinga MP Tendai Nyabani (Zanu PF) on whether he was ever going to come up with a policy to put an end to the suffering of the transacting public that are charged a premium to get cash by EcoCash agents, Ncube said government was aware that inflation had eroded the purchasing power of coins as people preferred notes.
“We have a programme with the central bank to surrender coins in exchange for notes, and I must say that premiums on EcoCash are unacceptable, but the issue is because there is not enough domestic cash yet,” he said.
“All payments are at par and there should not be multiple pricing, but we are aware of the practicality on the ground. But as inflation stabilises over time, those coins will become valuable and there will be no need to surrender them. We will increase the size of notes that will be issued.”
Dangamvura-Chikanga MP Prosper Mutseyami (MDC Alliance) then pressed the Treasury boss to specify the policy measures that he was putting in place to solve the cash crisis, but Ncube said the question was a repetition.
Harare East MP Tendai Biti (MDC Alliance) said despite the introduction of the mono currency to de-dollarise, government kept going back to the United States dollar and was giving currency exemptions to, for example, Zuva service stations.
“If the Zimbabwe dollar has failed, why not swallow your pride and repeal SI 142,” Biti asked.
But Ncube said Biti had been using the Zimbabwe dollar to transact and, therefore, could not say SI 142 had failed.
“In the last 12 months, we had 190 million transactions valued at $460 billion. That means we are on our way to de-dollarisation because the bulk of transactions are in domestic currency,” Ncube said.
He said solving the currency issues would not happen fast. He then attacked Biti, saying that during his tenure as Finance minister, he banned the Monetary Policy Statement.
Mabvuku-Tafara MP James Chidhakwa (MDC Alliance) queried why government exempted Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei from paying taxes when section 298 of the Constitution states that the burden of taxation must be shared fairly.
“Huawei is in the same category as Chinese companies implementing projects because the agreement is very clear that companies doing projects must be exempted from taxes. Huawei is rolling out base stations with NetOne,” Ncube responded.
But Biti said the law did not allow Ncube to give tax exemptions retrospectively.