Cash crisis a nightmare — Zimra

HARARE - The Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) on Wednesday said the current cash crisis is now a nightmare that is affecting the country’s economic growth.

Zimra chairperson Willia Bonyongwe said there was need for all stakeholders to come up with a solution to end the debilitating cash crisis that has resulted in people queuing for days on end to withdraw money from banks.

“Unfortunately, the liquidity situation worsened again during the first quarter of 2017,” she said in a revenue performance update.

“Procurement of imported raw materials and capital equipment has become a nightmare, and there are long foreign payment queues at the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe eating into the gains of SI 64 of 2016,” she added.

Bonyongwe further indicated that regional currencies continue to weaken against a stronger United States dollar thus worsening Zimbabwe’s export competitiveness.

“The responsibility to address the liquidity crisis does not lie with the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe alone. It is the duty of everyone to act responsibly and in the national interest in how cash is handled for the country to restore stability in this area,” she said.

This comes as the national tax collecting agency said local consumption of petroleum products is tumbling with petrol and diesel imports going down.

“Petrol imports declined from 113,86 million litres in the first quarter 2016 to 99,72 million litres in the 2017 first quarter while diesel imports declined from 190,14 million litres in first quarter 2016 to 180,93 million litres in first quarter 2017,” Bonyongwe said.

The Zimra boss also noted that the decline followed another slump in the last quarter of 2016, after acute fuel shortages which rocked the country during the festive season.

“The decline is partly due to the economic performance but also captures significant smuggling and transit fraud,” she said.

Bonyongwe said the tax agency had made inroads in curbing transit fraud through its Electronic Cargo Tracking System, which is currently still being rolled out.

“However, smuggling through undesignated entry points is more problematic and actually beyond Zimra’s capacity to curb on its own. It requires a more concerted national effort and political will to eliminate that king of smuggling,” she said.

Zimbabwe is presently battling fuel shortages due to erratic supply with most pumps at local service stations dry while fuel companies are failing to pay for the commodity.

Energy ministry secretary, Partson Mbiriri, recently said the country did not have fuel availability problems, “but rather payment problems,” with all suppliers demanding cash for fuel delivered, despite cash shortages presently being experienced in Zimbabwe.

“I have explained the reasons for the shortage at the pump; you have the product in our storage tanks right throughout the country.

“But in order to redeem that product, you need to pay for it. It is here under bonded conditions…

“The product is in the country and we continue to import it, we continue to have arrangements by some fuel companies bringing in the product and allowing for that product to be sold using local currency, local resources, local transfers…,” Mbiriri said.

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