Don’t panic, Govt on top of the sit­u­a­tion

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Front Page -

PRES­I­DENT Mnan­gagwa’s mes­sage to Zim­bab­weans is sim­ple Do not panic as Government is on top of the sit­u­a­tion re­gards the econ­omy. The cur­rent chal­lenges are not in­sur­mount­able and will soon be over­come. The Pres­i­dent is ask­ing Zim­bab­weans to be pa­tient as the pre­vail­ing hard­ships are tem­po­rary and a re­sponse to the fis­cal and mone­tary sta­bil­i­sa­tion mea­sures an­nounced by Trea­sury and the Re­serve Bank of Zim­babwe. Th­ese will soon come to pass as the econ­omy self-cor­rects.

The cur­rent sit­u­a­tion can­not be com­pared to 2008 and hence there is no need for peo­ple to empty their bank bal­ances in fren­zied panic or to buy un­nec­es­sary goods as a store of value. As it is, some peo­ple are hoard­ing tonnes of ba­sic com­modi­ties in their homes un­nec­es­sar­ily while oth­ers have litres of haz­ardous fuel in their back­yards pos­ing a dan­ger to their fam­i­lies.

They have wiped clean their sav­ings and traded some of the money on the il­le­gal for­eign cur­rency par­al­lel mar­ket. Busi­nesses are not help­ing the sit­u­a­tion ei­ther by with­hold­ing stock and play­ing a wait-and-see game. Their ac­tions are di­rectly fuelling the price hikes by cre­at­ing ar­ti­fi­cial short­ages of goods. Thank­fully, Government has seen through their shenani­gans and sus­pended Statu­tory In­stru­ment 122 of 2017 to al­low com­pa­nies and en­ti­ties with free funds to im­port cer­tain goods into the coun­try.

In a frank and can­did en­gage­ment with bankers and cap­tains of in­dus­try and com­merce in Harare on Mon­day, Pres­i­dent Mnan­gagwa im­plored de­pos­i­tors not to panic over the value of their Real Time Gross Set­tle­ment (RTGS) bal­ances and bond notes as there is no change in pol­icy to war­rant of­fload­ing them.

“While the coun­try is go­ing through dif­fi­cult times mainly be­cause of lack of for­eign cur­rency to meet the grow­ing de­mand for for­eign ex­change across all the sec­tors of the econ­omy, I would like to as­sure you all that the cur­rent mul­ti­c­ur­rency sys­tem is here to stay. All your RTGS bal­ances at banks and bond notes in cir­cu­la­tion, are safe and se­cure. There should be no pres­sure to ex­change or off­load th­ese bal­ances as Government pol­icy has not changed to war­rant such anx­i­ety,” said Pres­i­dent Mnan­gagwa.

He said the “fear to lose wealth and sav­ings” as hap­pened at the peak of the 2008 eco­nomic chal­lenges were “cur­rent but un­nec­es­sary”. Pres­i­dent Mnan­gagwa said he ap­pre­ci­ates and un­der­stands the con­cerns of cit­i­zens and Government was work­ing around the clock to sta­bilise the econ­omy.

He also re­vealed that the pres­i­dent of the African Ex­port-Im­port Bank (Afrex­im­bank) Pro­fes­sor Bene­dict Oramah, Se­nior Ad­vi­sor Lazard Fr­eres and Dr Ngozi Okonjo Iweala, were in the coun­try last Thurs­day to pro­vide as­sur­ances that the bank would pro­vide Zim­babwe with the much-needed fi­nan­cial sup­port.

In his dis­cus­sions with busi­nesses, the Pres­i­dent was clear that Government was aware of their chal­lenges but also alive to the suf­fer­ing of the masses who have en­dured short­ages of goods some of which are stacked in ware­houses by man­u­fac­tur­ers for spec­u­la­tive pur­poses. Re­tail­ers are also charg­ing ex­tor­tion­ate prices for their goods a sce­nario Government finds un­ac­cept­able. Government would there­fore not ac­qui­es­cence to their plea to lift the sus­pen­sion of SI 122 as they claim to have the ca­pac­ity to pro­duce the goods that are in short sup­ply.

While there was a meeting of minds on cer­tain is­sues, a chasm still ex­ists and this can be nar­rowed with fur­ther en­gage­ments. The Pres­i­dent has said he is open to fur­ther in­ter­ac­tive ses­sions with busi­ness­peo­ple to en­sure the econ­omy moves for­ward.

“You have re­quested that we meet, some said twice a year; I need more than twice a year. We, as the cur­rent ad­min­is­tra­tion, know that your in­put is cru­cial in mov­ing for­ward. The days when Government made decisions with­out con­sult­ing the pri­vate sec­tor are now be­hind us. In the new dis­pen­sa­tion, dia­logue is a two-way street. The pri­vate sec­tor and pub­lic sec­tor must tra­verse this new path hand-in-hand to build the Zim­babwe we want,” said Pres­i­dent Mnan­gagwa.

We wel­come the ca­ma­raderie and spirit in which the Pres­i­dent’s in­ter­ac­tion with the busi­ness com­mu­nity was held and hope it is the be­gin­ning of a col­lab­o­ra­tive ef­fort to build the coun­try’s econ­omy. The prob­lems con­fronting Zim­babwe can only be over­come through unity of pur­pose and the busi­ness com­mu­nity is cru­cial to ef­forts to turn­around the econ­omy.

Pres­i­dent Mnan­gagwa is a lis­ten­ing leader and we are con­fi­dent that the con­cerns raised by cap­tains of in­dus­try will be taken on board as Government crafts pol­icy. In the same vein, busi­nesses must play their part by be­ing hon­est and adopt­ing eth­i­cal prac­tices in their craft. Spec­u­la­tive ten­den­cies and mas­sive prof­i­teer­ing be­long in the dark era of hy­per­in­fla­tion and we urge them to de­sist from such prac­tices. As the Pres­i­dent said, Zim­bab­weans should rally to­gether and work for the common good of the coun­try. They have to put na­tional in­ter­ests ahead of their nar­row self­ish goals.

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