IMF offers assistance to improve payments system

HARARE – The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has offered technical support to improve Zimbabwe’s payments system to enable banks to disburse foreign currency allowances to thousands of civil servants more efficiently.

Banks have faced difficulties in making payments to public workers who started receiving allowances in hard cash last month.

Long queues have become common at banking halls across the country on days civil servants receive allowances.

A senior official at the Ministry of Finance said the IMF agreed to assist Zimbabwe after noticing serious shortcomings during their two-week stay in the country for Article IV consultations meetings.

"The IMF has offered to help us and our banks in the disbursements of foreign currency to clients from their banks," said the official, who spoke on condition he was not named.

"They realised that most of banks were having problems in disbursing the civil servants allowances and it was also noticed that problems mostly arise towards month ends when most civil servants get paid their US$ 100 allowances," he added.

Finance Minister Tendai Biti was not immediately available for comment on the matter while it was also not possible to obtain comment from the Bankers Association of Zimbabwe (BAZ) and the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ). 

However, our source said the BAZ and the RBZ were already reviewing the payments system and prepared blueprints on how best to address the problems associated with currency distribution.

Last week, the IMF completed its two-week assessment mission to Zimbabwe although it made no commitment on future financial support its final statement offered a glimmer of hope as it praised some of the policies that have been adopted by Harare. – ZimOnline