By Robert Tapfumaneyi
FINANCE Minister Mthuli Ncube has accused some locals banks, failing to offer civil servants access to their US$75 Covid-19 allowances, of running against the spirit and intentions of President Emmerson Mnangagwa.
Government two months ago availed a special allowance for all civil servants to access US$75 a month to cushion them against the Covid-19 pandemic.
The scheme is to run for three months and most government workers started receiving the allowances last month. Government pensioners were also awarded US$30 under similar conditions.
However, most are facing challenges in accessing the facility from the banks as the allowance does not allow one to access cash and is for mobile transactions only.
Ncube blamed banks for making it difficult for clients to access the money by putting in place stringent measures while some financial institutions were keeping their clients in the dark.
“This behaviour runs counter to the spirit and intentions of the President of the Republic of Zimbabwe, His Excellency, E.D Mnangagwa, when he made the offer to civil servants and pensioners to pay these allowances in foreign currency, which are meant to provide an inflation hedge,” Ncube said in a statement.
“Some Banks have not communicated adequately, as agreed with the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, on the opening of new FCA accounts for civil servants and pensioners. A significant number of beneficiaries remain unaware of the existence of these new bank accounts and their terms of operation.
“Some banks have not made any serious and visible efforts to issue suitable cards and to deploy relevant and adequate supporting point of transaction equipment to enable beneficiaries to use the cards to make payments for goods and services using the foreign currency denominated cards.
“Additionally, electronic platforms for transacting in the USD allowances are either absent or inadequate, or information about these is not available. As a result, some banks are in effect forcing beneficiaries to liquidate their foreign currency allowances, and imposing several restrictions on the operations of the Nostro FCAs that have the direct and undesirable effect of disenfranchising the beneficiaries.”
The Finance Minister added: “Treasury is pleased to announce that it is today making a further release of the necessary Foreign Currency to enable the payment of the US$75 Covid-19 allowances to civil servants as well as the monthly commitments to pensioners of US$30.”