RBZ says quarterly US$ deposits up, anticipates imports growth

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By Alois Vinga

THE Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) has said quarterly US$ deposits have grown by 30,59% on the back of improving confidence in the country’s banking sector amid expectations that the country’s imports will increase following recent policy measures.

The data contained in the central bank’s first quarter report for the year 2022 shows a considerable increase in the component.

“The growth in broad money stock reflects quarterly expansions in foreign currency deposits, 30,59%; currency in circulation, 39,55%; and local currency deposits, 18,43%.

“Local currency deposits accounted for 52,7% of broad money, followed by foreign currency deposits, at 46,7%; while currency in circulation accounted for the remaining 0,55%,” the report said.

The broad money stock stood at ZW$589,09 billion in March 2022, compared to ZW$475,36 billion as at the quarter ended December 2021.

Market watchers have partly attributed the increase in foreign currency deposits to consistency which has seen depositors managing to access their US$ deposits freely.

Other economic experts have however attributed the increase as a reflection of the US$ wide usage.

The RBZ records show that in March 2020, the US$ deposit segment was way below an equivalent of ZW$30 billion and rose to an equivalent of over ZW$100 billion in March 2021 before surpassing around ZW$200 billion in the last quarter.

The central bank reported that the country’s total merchandise imports surged by 18,8% to US$1,977.2 million, during the first quarter of 2022, from US$1,663.6 million recorded in the corresponding quarter in 2021.

“The country’s import bill is, however, set to increase significantly, following the decision by the Government to relax restrictions on importation of some basic commodities to improve their availability.

“Fuel imports are also likely to increase on account of the soaring international oil prices, due to tight supplies, following the imposition of sanctions by the West on crude oil imports from Russia,” the central bank said.

In comparison, during the period, the country’s merchandise exports for the first quarter of 2022 amounted to US$1,539.5 million, 41,8% higher than US$1,085,7 million recorded in the corresponding quarter in 2021.