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Companies face export facilities challenges

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Oliver Kazunga, Senior Business Reporter
COMPANIES are struggling to access export financing facilities availed through local banks by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) with some banks allegedly expressing ignorance over the facilities’ disbursement.

This emerged during a breakfast meeting on the $20 million export development funding from RBZ organised by ZimTrade in Bulawayo yesterday.

Cognisance of the importance of the exports, RBZ has in the past come up with measures to stimulate exports such as the enhanced export incentive scheme for horticulture, cotton, macademia, tobacco and gold.

The five percent export incentive scheme introduced in 2016 for exporters has since been increased to 12.5 percent for top Zimbabwe exporters.

Speaking at the breakfast meeting, the Central Bank’s director for financial markets, Mr Azvinandaa Saburi, said:

“On export facilities, we are facing challenges. We are getting reports that some banks are not aware of these facilities. But the money is there and we have released it through the banking system.”

In an interview, RBZ Deputy Governor Dr Kupukile Mlambo echoed similar sentiments adding that the monetary authority would now have to start re-engaging the banks.

“We have to start engaging the banks to make sure that customers get these facilities at the price at which we said they should be. For example, the export facility is at 7.5 percent and this is all inclusive, there are no extra charges,” he said, adding that they would be raising the matter with banks’ chief executive officers.

He said the export facilities, particularly the $20 million export development funding finance, was available to all banks and thus any client from any bank can get access to that facility through their bank.

“But what we heard here today from the public was that they are having difficulties in accessing that money because some of the banks are saying that facility is not yet ready,” said Dr Mlambo.

The exporters at the breakfast meeting also called on the monetary authorities to address issues of country risk by ensuring clearance of the $1.8 billion debt owed to the World Bank and the African Development Bank to attract opportunities for offshore funding.

Besides the export finance facility, the RBZ has also introduced other schemes for sectors such as gold, tourism and tobacco.

In the 2018 monetary policy statement presented last week, the Central Bank Governor Dr John Mangudya noted that the economy’s foreign currency inflows were on a positive trajectory, largely on account of increasing export receipts that grew by 36 percent last year from the 2016 level.

“It is therefore important to sustain this momentum for increased foreign currency inflows. Accordingly, the current export incentive scheme that is funded by bond notes shall be maintained to promote export competitiveness at the current thresholds.

“The scheme, which was adjusted to 12.5 percent for tobacco growers starting this year, shall be tweaked to 10 percent for horticulture, cotton, macadamia and gold producers,” he said.

The tobacco input finance facility has been increased from the $28 million disbursed in 2017 to $70 million, while the gold support facility has been increased from $74 million (disbursed to 255 entities) last year to $150 million.

@okazunga

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