GOVERNMENT yesterday disbursed the second monthly nostro payments for civil servants and pensioners while observing that some banks in connivance with some players in the retail sector were conspiring to sabotage the cushioning programme.
President Mnangagwa in June introduced the foreign currency cushioning allowance for all civil servants and pensioners in view of challenges posed by Covid-19 in the country’s transitioning economy.
To cushion employees, Government also imposed a 50 percent salary increment while salary negotiations continued.
All civil servants are receiving a flat monthly non-taxable US$75 while pensioners receive US$30 allowances paid electronically.
The electronic payments are meant to ensure that the foreign currency does not circulate in the black market.
Civil servants and pensioners received their first payment last month as some of them expressed concerns that some banks did not produce foreign currency accounts (FCA) bank cards to enable to access their funds.
In a statement yesterday, Finance and Economic Development Minister Professor Mthuli Ncube yesterday announced the disbursement of foreign currency payments to beneficiaries for this month.
“However, Treasury notes with concern and disappointment that some regulated banking institutions, in connivance with some major retailers, have conspired to limit or prevent beneficiaries of this scheme, from accessing the full foreign currency value of their payments,” said Prof Ncube.
“We have also received reports that some banks, are telling customers that they have not received Nostro US dollars from Treasury, a situation which has resulted in reputational damage to the Government and unnecessary ill feeling among civil servants and the public at large.”
He said some banks have been unwilling to hasten to provide the requisite FCA bank cards which contradicts President Mnangagwa’s vision to cushion employees against the harsh economic environment.
“This behaviour runs counter to the spirit and intentions of the President of the Republic of Zimbabwe, His Excellency, ED Mnangagwa, when he made the offer to civil servants and pensioners to pay these allowances in foreign currency which are meant to provide an inflation hedge,” he said.
Prof Ncube said banks and the retail sector should self-correct including adequately communicating to their clients on the availability of the FCA facility while producing the necessary cards to enable beneficiaries to access their monies.
He said Government is aware that some banks want to create an artificial problem to force customers to relinquish their foreign earnings in substitute for local currency.
“As a result, some banks are in effect forcing beneficiaries to liquidate their foreign currency allowances, and imposing several restrictions on the operations of the FCAs that have the direct and undesirable effect of disenfranchising the beneficiaries. Government has taken due exception to these behaviours, and especially in regard of the fact that in addressing the wage challenges faced across the civil service. Government needs the assistance and co-operation of players in the banking system,” he said.
Prof Ncube said banks should work close with the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe to improve the banking platforms to enable the public to easily transact electronically.
He said Government remains committed to addressing challenges affecting its employees.
“Government wishes to reiterate its commitment to payment of living wages to its employees, and advises members of the civil service, that the Covid-19 allowances have been put in place as an additional cushion, while negotiations for a comprehensive wage structure, which includes significant non-monetary benefits, are continuing,” he said.