By Leopold Munhende
THE Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) and Finance Minister are investigating Innscor and other companies using illegal exchange rates of as high as US$1: $200.
This follows a public outcry Wednesday when a receipt showed Innscors leading fast-food outlets were charging up to $200 in local currency for products for selling for an equivalent US$1.
Innscor’s rate was $115 above the RBZ’s official US$1: $85 rate and $40 above the prevailing black market rate.
Other local companies are using a US$1: $250 rate.
However, the RBZ said Thursday morning, it’s Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) was investigating the illegal foreign currency trades.
“The Financial Intelligence Unit is investigating allegations of currency manipulation and pegging of the Zimbabwe dollar at $200 to US$1 circulating on social media,” the RBZ said.
“Perpetrators shall be brought to book. Thank you, Zimbabwe for exposing the rot.”
Meanwhile, Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube said the: “parallel market benchmarking or indexation of goods and services at parallel market exchange rates” causing price instability.
“The government, through various agencies, is presently seized with instituting various measures to curb illegal trade in foreign currency and its associated twin evil; that of parallel market benchmarking or indexation of prices and goods and services at parallel market exchange rates,” said Ncube.
“The recent resurgence of these practices, which have been identified as significant contributors to price instability in the economy and are imposing significant downside risks to macro-economic stability, and the erosion of domestic and international competitiveness is, therefore, a cause for serious concern.”
Despite past promises to arrest the situation, the RBZ has done little to address the issue.
For the past two weeks, the central bank has “named and shamed” 77 individuals that are accused of trading in illegal foreign currency deals.
However, Zanu PF’s Buhera South MP Joseph Chinotimba dismissed the RBZ efforts accusing the state of arresting “ordinary teachers and nurses” leaving out tycoons involved in the illegal foreign currency.
“We are busy arresting people on the roads who get paid in RTGS dollars, ordinary teachers and nurses while failing to arrest the big tycoons who get US dollars at the interbank rate, there is something wrong with our minds,” said Chinotimba.
“If the RBZ does not have a law to deal with this, we should come up with one so that we deal with them ourselves before arresting people on the streets.
“Big companies are the ones pushing the exchange rate but we leave them. Why?
“We see this, but why not the RBZ governor, we are not the Minister of Finance or the (Finance Ministry) permanent secretary (George Guvamatanga).”