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Finance Sector Cash Crisis Worsens in Zimbabwe

  • Gibbs Dube

The Treasury and the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe this week changed pension and pay dates for civil servants to help banks mobilize cash and bolster financial system liquidity

Zimbabweans are finding it harder and harder to obtain cash from their banking institutions - and banks themselves are also feeling a severe liquidity pinch.

Bankers and economists said financial sector liquidity is constrained by the failure of many companies to service loans, the sluggish recovery and scant investment.

At the same time, they said, four Zimbabwean banks are holding US$450 million in offshore accounts to meet the cash obligations of their clients.

The Treasury and the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe this week changed pension and pay dates for civil servants to help banks mobilize cash and bolster liquidity.

The Banking Association of Zimbabwe has proposed that four banks with large off-shore accounts should repatriate at least US$200 million to address money supply issues.

Banker Witness Chinyama said the central bank has not provided enough cash.

"Companies and individuals can only have confidence in the finance sector if there is some kind of support from the central bank," said Chinyama.

Economist Tony Hawkins of the University of Zimbabwe Graduate School of Business said the repatriation of offshore funds will have little impact on liquidity.

Finance Minister Tendai Biti said last December that more than US$2 billion is circulating outside the formal banking sector.

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