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Resurgence of Money Pyramid Schemes Worries RBZ

  • Gibbs Dube

The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) says it is concerned about the resurgence of pyramid schemes with various names including faith clubs, wealth generation funds and ponzi schemes.

Presenting the central bank’s monetary policy statement on Wednesday, co-governor of the RBZ Charity Dhliwayo said in view of the losses already incurred through the placement of funds with non-deposit-taking institutions members of the public are advised to ensure that they are dealing with registered institutions.

Dhliwayo said Zimbabweans should make sure that the institution is operating within its permitted activities as approved by the Reserve Bank or the Ministry of Small and Medium Enterprises and Cooperative Development.

Money pyramid schemes surfaced in the 1990s and hundreds of people lost their hard-earned cash to the unsustainable schemes. Unsuspecting members of the public are enticed to join so-called money clubs with promises of hefty benefits.

The schemes collapse as soon as the first few beneficiaries “harvest” so-called profits. Subsequent beneficiaries fail to get any money as the schemes run out of cash.

Dhliwayo further said consistent with government’s position as clearly articulated in the 2014 national budget, Zimbabwe will continue with the use of multiple currencies.

She said this should put to rest the widespread speculation surrounding this issue. “As such, the Reserve Bank in close collaboration with government has no plans to re-introduce the Zim-dollar as widely speculated.”

Dhliwayo noted that trade and investment ties between Zimbabwe, China, India, Japan and Australia have grown appreciably. “It is against this background of growth in trade and investment ties that in the 2014 national budget, the Honourable Minister of Finance and Economic Development underscored the importance of including other currencies in the basket of already circulating currencies.

“In this regard, we wish to advise exporters and the general transacting public that in addition to opening of accounts denominated in Botswana Pula, British Sterling Pound, Euro, South African Rand, United States Dollar, individuals and corporates can also open accounts denominated in the Australian Dollar (AUD), Chinese Yuan
(CYN), Indian Rupee (INR) and Japanese Yen (JPY),” she said.

The Reserve Bank, she said, stands ready to play its role in ensuring the stability of the banking sector and effect policies that enable greater financial intermediation by banks in order to finance the productive sectors of the economy, including the unbanked and SMEs.

At the same time, Dhliwayo said the country’s external sector position remains precarious on the back of uncompetitive exports and the absorption of disproportionately huge imports.

“Growing import dependence has largely been occasioned by widening capacity gaps in the wake of endemic company closures.

Reflecting the slowdown in export growth, she said, total foreign currency receipts as reported by banks declined by 2.1% from US$7.6 billion in 2012 to US$7.5 billion in 2013.

On the other hand, the foreign payments amounted to US$8.9 billion in 2013, compared to US$8.2 billion in 2012.

Dhliwayo noted that on the back of the negative repercussions of the global economic slow-down, inflows from foreign investment, offshore credit lines, foreign aid and Diaspora remittances have remained subdued.

“Notably, international money transfers received by transfer agencies
(MTAs) and formal banking channels, declined markedly by 15% from US$2.1 billion in 2012 to US$1.8 billion in 2013. This notwithstanding, a considerable amount of Diaspora remittances continue to be transmitted through informal channels.

“In order to tap into the Diaspora resources, the Reserve Bank is guided by the 2014 national budget in recognizing the vital role played by Zimbabweans all over the world. Toward this end, work is currently underway to come up with appropriate facilities to effectively harness Diaspora savings for the development of the
domestic economy.”
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