Fuel ser­vice sta­tions reject plas­tic money

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Business Chronicle - Oliver Kazunga

SOME ser­vice sta­tions in Bu­l­awayo have stopped ac­cept­ing plas­tic money from mo­torists when buy­ing fuel.

In light of the cur­rent cash short­ages, the Re­serve Bank of Zim­babwe ( RBZ) has en­cour­aged the trans­act­ing pub­lic to make use of plas­tic money and other elec­tronic pay­ment sys­tems to ease the cash crisis.

Due to the pre­vail­ing cash crisis, a num­ber of busi­nesses in­clud­ing some fill­ing sta­tions, in re­cent months in­tro­duced elec­tronic pay­ment and plas­tic money plat­forms such as swipe ma­chines.

A snap sur­vey car­ried out by Business Chron­i­cle in the Cen­tral Business Dis­trict yes­ter­day showed that some fill­ing sta­tions such as Trek Petroleum and En­gen that re­cently in­tro­duced swipe ma­chine ser­vices to mo­torists had this week sus­pended the plat­forms.

Some of the fuel at­ten­dants at the fill­ing sta­tions who pre­ferred not to be named said they had re­ceived a di­rec­tive from their man­age­ment not to ac­cept pay­ments through swipe ma­chines.

“We’re no longer us­ing the swipe ma­chines here (Trek fill­ing sta­tion) as man­age­ment has di­rected us to re­move them. We now ac­cept pay­ments that come through cash and coupons sys­tem.

“This is a di­rec­tive from man­age­ment,” said the at­ten­dant de­clin­ing to give rea­sons for the sus­pen­sion of swipe ma­chines.

At En­gen fill­ing sta­tion sit­u­ated at the in­ter­sec­tion of Fort Street and 5th Av­enue, a fuel at­ten­dant who also pre­ferred not to be named said:

“We have sus­pended the use of swipe ma­chines start­ing on Mon­day fol­low­ing a di­rec­tive from man­age­ment. We were not given the rea­sons and as work­ers, we are work­ing as per in­struc­tions from man­age­ment,” said the at­ten­dant.

This pa­per also ob­served that fill­ing sta­tions in Bu­l­awayo were ac­cept­ing bond notes that came into ef­fect on Mon­day.

The bond notes, which are at par with the United States dol­lar, were re­leased in de­nom­i­na­tions of $2 and $5 and a $1 bond coin.

RBZ Gov­er­nor Dr John Man­gudya is on record as say­ing the notes, which are guar­an­teed by a $200 mil­lion Africa Ex­port Im­port Bank (Afrex­im­Bank) fa­cil­ity, would see about $75 mil­lion worth of the sur­ro­gate cur­rency be­ing re­leased into the econ­omy by the end of this month.

Eco­nomic an­a­lysts at­trib­uted the sus­pen­sion of swipe ma­chines by some fuel dealers to mea­sures they were put­ting to re­duce de­lays they would go through when wait­ing for their for­eign ex­change al­lo­ca­tion from the cen­tral bank.

A num­ber of the play­ers in the petroleum sec­tor im­port their fuel and thus forex is re­quired to fa­cil­i­tate in­ter­na­tional trade.

“I think their rea­son for sus­pend­ing the use of swipe ma­chines is largely not to do with the in­tro­duc­tion of the bond notes, but they are try­ing to cir­cum­vent the de­lays that they go through when wait­ing for forex al­lo­ca­tion from RBZ.

“If the fuel dealers have cash de­posits, they can quickly do their trans­ac­tions through the bank and im­port with­out wait­ing for forex al­lo­ca­tion from RBZ,” said Mrs Wendy Mpofu.

She noted that fuel dealers were in business and any de­lays in ac­cess­ing for­eign cur­rency to im­port the com­mod­ity means loss of in­come to the en­ter­prise.

An­other eco­nomic an­a­lyst who pre­ferred not to be named echoed sim­i­lar sen­ti­ments adding that the mon­e­tary au­thor­i­ties should build con­fi­dence around the bond notes to re­move scep­tism among some mar­ket play­ers re­gard­ing the sur­ro­gate cur­rency.

The bond notes were in­tro­duced mainly to fund ex­port in­cen­tives of up to five per­cent which will be paid to ex­porters of goods and ser­vices and di­as­pora re­mit­tances.

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