The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe on Wednesday raised the daily cash withdrawal limit for individuals to Z$500,000 from Z$50,000, at the same time officially releasing new bank notes in denominations of Z$100,000, Z$500,000, and Z$1 million dollars.
The withdrawal limit for companies was raised to Z$1 million a day from Z$10,000. In previously setting the limit at an insignificant Z$10,000 the central bank was trying to encourage companies to use alternative means of making payments, like checks. But checks can take weeks to clear, by which time hyperinflation last officially measured at 231 million percent has taken a massive bite out of the value of the payment.
The bank had earlier shut down a system for electronic payments as a radical measure to prevent currency speculators from transferring large sums of money.
Many banks ran out of cash quickly Wednesday as customers took full advantage of the higher withdrawal limit, in addition to which the new notes were slow to be delivered by the Reserve Bank, financial sources said. In Bulawayo, the country's second-largest city, some banks limited withdrawals to $200,000, local sources said.
The latest Reserve Bank policy changes immediately came under attack by the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions, which said withdrawal limits should be abolished completely so that workers like other Zimbabweans could have the full use of their money.
ZCTU Secretary General Wellington Chibebe told reporter Jonga Kandemiiri of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that his union might reconsider its October decision to shelve plans for a labor action in protest of continuing cash shortages.