Zimbabwe’s central bank has secured a $500 million loan from unspecified international banks to support interbank currency trading from Monday and ease a dollar crunch that has brought fuel and medicine shortages, Governor John Mangudya said, Reuters reported. The central bank introduced a new local currency in February, the RTGS dollar, and launched an interbank trading platform where businesses and individuals could buy and sell U.S. dollars. But dollars have been scarce on the official market, where a U.S. dollar fetches 3.4 RTGS dollars compared to 6.3 RTGS dollars on the black market.
Zimbabwe has reached agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on a program of economic policies and structural reforms that could pave the way to the crisis-hit country re-engaging with international financial institutions, Reuters reported. Suffering from decades of decline and hyperinflation, Zimbabwe has not been able to borrow from international lenders since 1999, when it started defaulting on its debt. It has arrears of around $2.2 billion with the World Bank, the African Development Bank and European Investment Bank.
Zimbabwe’s lenders, which include units of Standard Bank Group Ltd. and Ecobank Ltd., appealed to the central bank to raise interest rates that have been capped at 12 percent for the past two years, saying this would increase lending in the collapsing economy, Bloomberg News reported. They also proposed that the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe introduce an overnight rate to facilitate lending between financial institutions and the central bank, Bankers Association of Zimbabwe submissions seen by Bloomberg show.
Zimbabwe’s government dropped its insistence that a quasi-currency known as bond notes are at par with the dollar as it overhauled foreign-exchange trading and effectively devalued the securities, Bloomberg News reported. The measures are a step toward trying to create a new currency and stabilize Zimbabwe’s economy, which has been plunged into crisis as a shortage of foreign currency stoked the fastest increase in consumer prices in more than a decade and caused shortages of food, fuel and medicine.
Not having a currency of its own hasn’t stopped Zimbabwe from sliding into a currency crisis, Bloomberg News reported. A scarcity of foreign exchange has led to long queues for fuel, bread and medicine and sent prices surging across the southern African country. Police clashed with protesters in the capital, Harare, on Monday as the main trade-union group started a strike after the government more than doubled gasoline prices to $3.31 a liter ($12.58 a gallon) over the weekend, the highest in the world, according to GlobalPetrolPrices.com.