Health Minister warns pharmacies charging in forex

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By Idah Mhetu

GOVERNMENT has warned all the pharmaceutical companies and retail pharmacies charging in United States dollars or equivalent RTGS dollars interbank rate to desist from practice or face unspecified action from the authorities.

Health and Child Care Minister Obadiah Moyo said at a post cabinet media briefing Tuesday that pharmacies that have pegged their prices in US dollars or set their prices against prevailing parallel market rates should stop the practice forthwith or face the consequences.

Moyo said since it is now illegal in this country to trade in foreign currency, the law will take its course.

“It’s now law that you cannot charge in United States dollars. Whichever pharmacy is found flouting that law will face the consequences,” he said.

“The law is very clear so we advise everybody who is a pharmacist and who owns a pharmacy not to overcharge customers and to also stop charging in United States dollars.”

Government recently scraped the use of foreign currency in local transactions and restored the local dollar as sole legal tender.

Last month, President Emmerson Mnangagwa also warned pharmacies charging in foreign currency risked cancellation of their trading licences.

Meanwhile, pharmaceutical companies have heeded the government’s directive to stop demanding hard currency for drugs, even though they pleaded with the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe to consistently allocate them adequate foreign currency to ensure smooth supply of imported drugs and other materials.

They have continued to charge in the hard currency and some charge using the equivalent RTGS dollars interbank rate thereby overcharging their customers.

Even though some of the retail pharmacies had complied with the directive, some have continued charging in hard currency while defending their actions as the last resort since their suppliers were also demanding payment in foreign currency.