The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, which is now owed more than US$200 million by exporters, has published a list of the top 1 000 defaulters and has given them one week to pay up or face prosecution.
The exporters owe the bank US$212.7 million- enough to meet the country’s fuel needs for almost four months- of which US$110.7 million is owed by delinquent exporters “who have literally gone into hiding”.
The central bank has given all the exporters up to Friday next week, September 30, to pay up or face prosecution. It says it has published the list so that relevant stakeholders can intervene and take appropriate action to make sure their companies pay up.
Agricultural companies owe the biggest amount with US$26.7million being current and US$55.7 million overdue. A total of 187 companies are still active while 73 are said to be in hiding.
Zimbabwe Sugar Sales owes the highest amount of US$10.8 million but is still active. Surprisingly one of the agricultural companies reported to be in hiding is the Forestry Commission, a parastatal, which owes US$1.1 million.
Manufacturing companies currently owe US$34.3 million and an additional US$49.1 million that is overdue. The bulk, 730, are, however, still active while 131 are reported to be in hiding.
The majority of the companies, however, owe small amounts of less than one million dollars, each, with only two companies, Aurex and Zimbabwe Spinners and Weavers owing more than that.
Aurex owes US$4.8 million while Zimbabwe Spinners and Weavers owes US$2.4 million.
Mining companies owe nearly US$22 million with US$18 million being current and US$3.7 million overdue.
Tobacco companies owe just over US$23 million with US$22.6 million being current. Only US$633 580, owed by three small companies, is overdue.
The bulk of the money is owed by one company, Dimon Zimbabwe, but it is active. The company has not remitted US$16.1 million.
Services owe the least amount of just over US$2 million of which US$1.5 million is overdue.
Though the amount owed looks small, it is a lot of money for a country with a teetering economy, galloping inflation and an acute shortage of fuel.
Only last week the Harare City Council said its services, including the ambulance services, had been crippled because of the shortage of fuel.
The prison services has complained that it cannot take prisoners to court because of the shortage of fuel.
The price of fuel on the black market has soared with some selling it for as much as $100 000 a litre. The official price is $23 300 a litre for petrol and $20 800 for diesel.
The shortage of fuel has brought urban transport to a standstill. The few commuter taxis on the roads are overcharging claiming that they are buying fuel on the black market.
Police said on Tuesday they had arrested 770 commuter taxis in just two days for overcharging.
Manufacturing is now reported to be operating at 30 percent of its capacity. The price of the few products available has soared with inflation reaching 265 last month.
Central bank governor, Gideon Gono, initially aimed to see inflation down to between 20 and 50 percent by the end of this year. He revised the figure to between 80 and 100 percent, but analysts say he will be lucky if it ends at anything below 200 percent.
Reality seems to now have caught up Gono who was touted as a turn-around expert, whose motto was “failure is not an option”.
He told heads of parastatals and senior government officials last week that there was no way the country could earn foreign currency without trading.
“We can only generate foreign currency through trade and no amount of crying will result in the governor producing foreign currency,” he said.
But so far, all the incentives he has introduced including the devaluation of the local currency which is now trading officially at $26 000 to the greenback, have failed to boost trade or turn around the country’s fortunes. Instead, they only seem to have fuelled the insatiable black market.
Posted- 22 September 2005