Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa was today grilled about the cash shortages that continue to dog the new administration five months after it assumed office.
He, however, said people had to understand that the money that was being paid out electronically was not cash so if people transacted electronically, there would not be any problem.
Chinamasa said that 96 percent of the transactions in Zimbabwe were now electronic prompting a heated debate with Mabvuku-Tafara legislator James Maridadi that if the bulk of the transactions were now electronic those who need cash should therefore be able to get it.
Below is the full debate:
HON. HOLDER: My next question is to the Minister of Finance and Economic Planning. Could the Minister please update this House on the issue of cash flow problems, especially in the country, in the banks. What is Government doing to ease the cash flow process? -[HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.]-
THE ACTING SPEAKER: Order Hon. Members. I thought this was a very important question.
THE MINISTER OF FINANCE AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT (HON. CHINAMASA): Mr. Speaker Sir, Government recognises that there is a problem and also is fully aware as to the causes of that problem and these problems cannot be addressed overnight. One of the problems – [HON. MEMBERS: How many nights?]-
THE ACTING SPEAKER: Order, order please.
HON. CHINAMASA: Hon. Members need to be aware that when we pay their salaries through RTGs that is not represented by physical cash. That they should know and the system will work perfectly for as long as all of us accept to transact business through electronic transfers. As a matter of fact, Mr. Speaker Sir, because of this challenge we have now overtaken Kenya in terms of the number of transactions that are transacted electronically, through RTGs and through mobile.
The way to go, Mr. Speaker Sir, for all countries, developed or undeveloped, is that we are moving towards a cashless society and the challenges we have met through cash shortages has actually inspired our population to move expeditiously to a position where we are soon going to be a cashless society. For instance, Mr. Speaker Sir, of the 97 billion transactions that have been transacted in this country, about 96% of those now are electronic. All businesses in our retail shops is now electronic. We have now been able to step up production and supply of point of sale machines from 45 000 and to the current 70 000. Now, essentially I want Hon. Members to understand where we are going as an economy which is the case for all economies, whether it is India, China or the United States. We are all going towards a cashless economy, but notwithstanding, Mr. Speaker Sir, His Excellency the President has directed both my Ministry and the Reserve Bank to find measures that can ameliorate this problem. I hope that some of the measures that we are considering, which we have not yet concluded will be able to be put into motion and produce a satisfactory outcome. I thank you.
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