Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor John Mangudya says Zimbabwe has so far realised $6 billion in foreign currency earnings this year.
This was way above the $1.8 billion realised by Rwanda or the $2 billion by Ethiopia, the continent’s second biggest country by population, he said.
With so much money coming into the country, one is bound to ask: Why are we having shortages of things like fuel in Zimbabwe?
We have never heard of a shortage of fuel in Rwanda. In fact, Rwanda is one of the fastest growing countries in the world.
We have never heard of shortages of fuel in Ethiopia yet it has six times more people than Zimbabwe and operates the most viable airline on the continent.
Is this not because our priorities are skewed?
Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube said Zimbabweans have imported 700 000 cars in the past 12 months alone and the country now has 1.7 million cars.
Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authority acting chief executive Eddington Mazambani says demand for petrol has increased from 1.21 million litres a day last year to 2.06 million litres a day while that for diesel has jumped from 2.08 million litres to 3.21 million litres per day.
Foreign currency earnings have increased by 25 percent but demand for petrol went up by 69 percent and that for diesel by 54 percent.
There was an outcry when Ncube said people importing cars must pay duty in foreign currency.
But he explained: “People do not appreciate and understand our tax regime. The requirement for payment of customs duty is based on the ability to pay principle. In order to import, an individual requires foreign currency. Therefore, the source of foreign currency to import can also be the source of foreign currency required to settle the duty component.
“This brings out the element of ability to pay. It is also worth noting that this proposed measure is a demand management mechanism which is aimed at reducing the propensity to import using scarce foreign currency resources.
“I must add that Zimbabwe has about 1.7 million cars and in the last 12 months, we have had an increase of about 700 000 cars in one year alone. This is a huge increase and it is increasing the demand for fuel among other things, and it is quite clear that this is also putting pressure on the supply of foreign currency.”
Need anyone say more?
As my favourite comedian, Eddie Griffin, says: “Think, it ain’t illegal yet, but they are working on it.”