28 April 2017

Zimbabwe: Employers Lose Us$40 Million to Cash Queues

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(File photo).

If we use an average minimum wage of US$250 per month the loss goes down to half. This will translate into slightly below half a billion US dollars per year if the cash shortages continue at the current rate. The losses to employers will be much higher if the cash shortages worsen.

Between U.S.$20 million and US$40 million is being lost monthly by employers through payment of wages and salaries to workers who are not productive as they will be queueing at banks for cash. This could result in a cumulative annual loss of nearly half a billion, a survey has revealed.

The country is experiencing a severe cash shortage that has crippled industry despite the introduction of bond notes into the market in November last year.

Meandering queues of depositors in need of the elusive cash has become commonplace with daily maximum withdrawals being reduced to as little as US$30 in some banks.

"On average, employees are spending 2,5 hours every time they visit the bank every week. This roughly translates into US$40 million lost in wages paid to employees who are not productive every month using a median wage of US$520 per month," Industrial Psychology Consultants revealed in its report titled Productivity Losses As A Result of Bank Queues Report.

"If we use an average minimum wage of US$250 dollars per month the loss goes down to half. This will translate into slightly below half a billion US dollars per year if the cash shortages continue at the current rate. The losses to employers will be much higher if the cash shortages worsen."

The report adds: "If we add actual productive losses due to unmanned work stations the losses are staggering. This is in view of the fact that 83,68% of the respondents visit the banking halls during working hours. Around 32,22% of the respondents visit the bank more than twice a week and 18,84% visit the bank more than four times a week."

A total of 1 062 respondents participated in this survey. Of the respondents, 62,34% were male while 37,76% were female. Of the participants 7,8% are executives, 15,5% senior managers, 29,4% middle managers, 20,60% junior managers, 22,92% non-managerial while 3,82% did not specify their level. The report revealed that 76,80% of the cash withdrawn is taken by police fines followed by domestic workers and facial and hair treatment.

When asked why they would want to visit the bank when there are other payment options, most respondents said they need cash to either pay landlords, who refuse to accept other forms of payment, domestic workers, who do not have bank accounts, for transport or to give pocket money to their children.

"We have been through this road before during the hyperinflation environment. During that period individuals and companies perfected the art of dealing with cash shortages and it seems they are using the same tactics again; hoarding cash, demanding the most stable and secure form of payment for their goods and services. The authorities, like they did before, are responding with regulations and threats but all these failed before and it's likely they will fail again this time around," the report says.

"The authorities must create the right environment and confidence to allow ordinary people and businesses to take their money for banking. No sane person would go and bank US$100 cash which they will struggle to get from the bank when they need it. It is that simple."

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