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Zimbabwe Banks Spend Millions Repatriating 'Dirty Bills'

  • Jonga Kandemiiri

Zimbabwean banks say they are spending huge sums of money repatriating soiled notes to their countries of origin, forcing them to hike charges and rates to cover costs.

The Bankers Association of Zimbabwe says each bank coughs up at least $11 million per month freighting the dirty notes mainly to South Africa and the U.S. - the two nations whose currencies form the nucleus of Harare's multi-currency regime.

Of the amount repatriated, the banks are charged 1.25 percent, the association's president George Guvamatanga revealed in an interview with The Africa Report magazine.

Since the adoption of a cocktail of currencies in 2009 in an effort to curb runaway inflation, it is estimated that the repatriation process has cost banks over $478 million, resulting in the rise in bank charges.

Economist Prosper Chitambara of the Labor and Economic Development Research Institute of Zimbabwe told VOA that banks have no option but to hike charges to cover the freighting costs.