Patrick Chitumba and Nqobile Tshili, columnists
THE GOVERNMENT has condemned the practice of some companies to charge individuals who pay in local currency using rates that are above the auction rate in foreign currency.
Most stores do not adhere to the official exchange rate, and some use a three-way price system for those who buy in forex, cash in Zimbabwe dollars and electronic transactions
In a study in downtown Bulawayo, the Chronicle observed that stores continue to demand more money for those who pay in local currency as opposed to those who pay in forex.
While the official rate is US $ 1: $ 83.40, some supermarkets spend $ 1: $ 98.
The government introduced the forex auction system to ensure market stability.
Under the auction system, successful bidders pay what they bid, whether it is higher or lower than the average, with the highest bidder receiving the first award.
Last week, the exchange rate was US $ 1: $ 82.91.
In an interview, Permanent Secretary of Finance and Economic Development George Guvamatanga said stores should show both US dollars and Zimbabwe dollar prices and those who do not will be penalized.
“The government warns them against not showing both US dollars and Zimbabwe dollar prices, as we now have a double pricing system. They must show both prices at the official auction rate. So an item that costs US $ 1 should be $ 82 at the current auction price, not $ 100, ”he said.
“We are not happy that CZI (Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries) asked for double pricing and we agreed on that, but now they are all tied up in US dollars via ZWL to exorbitant margins. They get money from the auction at 82, but prove their wares at prices from 100 to 120. ”
The Permanent Secretary said that a comprehensive audit is threatening and that there will be sanctions for those who break the law.
“Those who break the law are in serious trouble, as a comprehensive audit is currently underway. The captives will face the full wrath of the law. I would urge all those who have not complied to voluntarily regulate their tax positions, ”Mr Guvamatanga said.
CZI Vice President Joseph Gunda said he was not aware that some players in the manufacturing sector were using parallel market interest rates despite having received forex in Central Bank.
“We may have to find out who the people are who are doing it and what are the reasons for them to do so, otherwise it is not fair to give an answer. We will investigate, send your questions in writing, ”Mr Gunda said.
President of the Zimbabwe Retailers (CZR) President Mr. Denford Mutashu said some companies’ lack of access to foreign exchange through the RBZ auction system prompted some players to use black market rates, which is illegal.
He said some traders are still buying foreign currency on the black market.
But what we have actually checked is that not all manufacturers get foreign currency from the auction system, and most retailers state that there are quite a large number who do not participate in the foreign exchange trading system. Even looking at the contribution of SME systems, it is still insignificant given the volume of goods being pushed across the economy both in terms of local production or imports. We may have this challenge for a month or more. It may not disappear until the market reaches convergence levels, where parallel market interest rates and the foreign exchange auction system converge, ”he said.
Sir. Mutashu said, despite some players using the foreign exchange rates on the black market, it was worth noting that the prices of basic commodities stabilized in the market while there is constant supply of goods.
Officials said they changed briefly.
Zimbabwe Teachers Association president Richard Gundani said the government must consider paying teachers $ 75 in cash so they are able to access goods and services of their choice without prior notice.
He said, as it is now, forced teachers to phase out the reimbursement for interbank rates, and then they are welcomed by companies that charge them black market rates.
“It is a tight situation that our members are facing because of these companies that prefer foreign currency, and when they agree to invoice in the local currency, the price of the item becomes unrealistic only because they want to force people to look for foreign currency. If only our employer could consider paying us in hard currency, we might be able to buy what we want, ”he said.
Motorists also said the government should come up with legislation that makes it mandatory for petrol stations to sell fuel in both foreign and local currency in accordance with the current exchange rate.
The dual-price system, motorists say, will make it easy for people without access to foreign currency, especially the US dollar, to also buy fuel from any service station based on the current exchange rate.