By Alois Vinga
DEPUTY Mines Minister, Polite Kambamura says that gold remittances to Fidelity Printers and Refiners (FPR) have reduced significantly since the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) monetary policy announcements made last week.
Briefing guests on challenges being experienced in the mining sector at a breakfast meeting held in Harare on Tuesday, Kambamura revealed that there were serious problems at hand.
“The bad news is that for the month of February, we are much lower in gold receipts than before especially after the RBZ governor, John Mangudya announced the monetary policy and since that day, I can confirm that we have so far received 20 kgs of gold at FPR,” he said.
He said from last year, production targets have been going down and in November, a total of 1.4 tonnes were delivered, December 1.6 tonnes and in January 2019, some 1.77 tonnes were delivered to FPR.
Normally, FPR receives 2.5 tonnes of gold per month.
In his recent monetary policy statement, Mangudya announced a reduction from almost 70 percent to 55 percent forex which the miners are paid instantly with the remainder being paid in RTGS dollars.
Several small scale miners who attended the event quizzed the central bank on why forex retention thresholds were reduced without consultation.
“How did the governor come up with the 55 percent retention threshold without even coming to consult us as we happen to be one of the main foreign currency contributors in the country?” asked one miner, Gift Kudakwashe.
Another small scale miner, Sasha Gomez warned FPR that they risked losing all the gold to illegal buyers who offer 100 percent payment in foreign currency if combative measures were not put in place to increase the foreign currency retention thresholds.
Responding to the issues, RBZ deputy director for Financial Markets, William Manimanzi said the thresholds were reduced in order to free up foreign currency for other important economic uses.
He held that other sectors like manufacturing were still enjoying higher thresholds as there is urgent need to revitalise industrial productivity which will in turn reduce the country’s import bill.
Gold is one of the leading foreign currency earners for the country and the current challenges are likely to worsen Zimbabwe’s already critical forex stocks.