Pensioners’ USD concerns resolved

Banks will soon issue foreign currency accounts (FCA) debit cards to pensioners for easier access of their allowances.

RBZ Governor Dr John Mangudya told The Sunday Mail that  he had held a productive meeting with banks and they would all comply.

“It was brought to our attention and we recently met with the CEOs of various banks on the issue and they assured us that pensioners would receive their cards any time from now, as the cards are being imported,” he said.

“We are putting pressure on them to fast-track the process and we are confident that in a week or two the problem will be rectified.

“We also reiterated to the banks that the service will be free and the cost will be borne by the Government, so pensioners will get their money in full. All banks need to do is to send the invoice to us and we pay.”

While banks created FCA for pensioners to access their US$30 Covid-19 allowances, getting debit cards to transact has been difficult.

Desperate pensioners have had to opt to liquidate their FCA balances into local currency, a process that is, however, fraught with bureaucracy owing to the paperwork involved and difficulties in travelling during the obtaining restrictions on movement.

There are allegations that some lenders, contrary to Government expectations, were not giving full foreign currency value of nostro allowances from the Government.

For example, most pensioners were only allowed to liquidate US$50 of the US$60 allowances that have accrued over the two-month period of July and August.

The recent meeting between the RBZ and banks follows a directive by the Government for corrective action to ensure civil servants’ and pensioners’ Covid-19 foreign currency allowances were not abused by financial institutions.

Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare Minister Professor Paul Mavima said pensioners’ concerns were being looked into.

“The matter is being looked into and getting the attention it deserves. We are meeting with the Ministry of Finance to rectify the issue.”

Ministry of Finance and Economic Development communications and advocacy director, Mr Clive Mphambela, said the teething challenges were being resolved.

“The funds were paid into the accounts. However, the challenge is on the cards, which cannot be accessed because they have to be ordered from outside the country,” he said.

“We wanted the pensioners to receive the funds in full; that is why the electronic system was introduced.

“The issue is now being handled by the RBZ, which is liaising with local banks.”

In June, Government announced a flat non-taxable Covid-19 allowance of US$75 for civil servants and a flat non-taxable Covid-19 allowance of US$30 for pensioners who retired from the civil service.

To guard against the potential misuse of the US-denominated cushion allowances, which cost the Government more than $32 million per month, Government decided to ring-fence the facility.

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