Govt caps farmers' withdrawals at $300

HARARE - The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) has capped withdrawal limits at $300 for tobacco farmers.

This comes as the 2017/80 tobacco marketing season is expected to commence soon, and on the back of a crippling cash crisis, which has seen banks fail to disburse withdrawals.

“In order to ensure a smooth payment system that is consistent with international best practice on daily cash withdrawal limits, (tobacco) growers shall be paid a maximum of $300 per day through banks stationed at the auction floors,” the central bank said in a statement outlining 2018’s tobacco season payment modalities.

The RBZ said the $300 shall only be disbursed to the farmers only “upon presentation of the respective sales statements”.

“The balance shall be transferred into the grower’s bank account or mobile money wallet,” the monetary authorities added.

Last year, police clashed with angry tobacco farmers, who had staged a protest demanding their cash from banks.

The skirmishes erupted after  police tried to violently block the frustrated farmers — most of them based outside Harare — who had besieged banks, claiming they were receiving about $100 after waiting for days on end.

Meanwhile, the RBZ has increased the Tobacco Finance Facility from $28 million last year to $70 million for the 2018 planting season.

“In addition, the export incentive for the tobacco growers was increased from five percent to 12,5 percent,” the RBZ said, adding “the amount shall...be paid through the respective growers’ bank accounts or mobile money services on a monthly basis”.

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