Zimbabwe: RBZ Acquires U.S.$1bn Loans

Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe.

The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) has acquired $985 million in loans from several regional banks for lending to the productive sectors as well as for the purchase of critical imports such as fuel, according to the Apex Bank governor Dr John Mangudya.

Dr Mangudya told the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Finance yesterday that Afreximbank loans accounted for the bulk of external loans at US$641 million.

"At Afreximbank we have exposure of US$641 million, TDB (formerly PTA Bank) US$152 million. These are United States dollars and these are loans that are well-structured facilities.

"The Afreximbank loan has got a rate of interest of 5 percent above libor with a tenure of 5 years, the TDB loan is libor plus 6 percent and a with a tenure of 3 years. The current loans were contracted last year. All the external loans, if you add them together with the smaller ones, come to US$985 million."

Governor Mangudya said the "smaller" loans were acquired from the central bank of Mozambique (US$25 million), PTA Reinsurance Corporation (US$9 million), the African Development Bank (US$15 million), South Africa Minting Company (US$1,9 million).

The local productive sectors have been struggling to access foreign currency, which was having a negative impact on capacity utilisation due to the foreign currency shortages to import raw materials."

"I think we have done well to ensure that this economy is where it is today. We are using and we will continue to use foreign currency as a very important input into the economy of Zimbabwe," said the governor.

"That foreign currency comes from our exports and from borrowing. Without these borrowings it means that the economy would not have been able to have fuel on the ground, etcetera."

Zimbabwe has been facing shortages of hard currency over the past few years.

The RBZ introduced bond notes around 2016, which quickly devalued against the United States dollar on the parallel market despite the government maintaining the 1:1 official rate.

And last month, the apex bank moved to improve the situation by introducing an official inter-bank foreign currency market to curb illegal trading.

Announcing the Monetary Policy Statement last month, Dr Mangudya said the central bank had arranged "sufficient lines of credit to enable it to maintain the foreign exchange market," which is currently trading at a rate of around 2,5, compared to an illegal market rate of around 3,5.

"The new framework is set to bring certainty, predictability and functionality to the country's foreign exchange market," he said.

The committee is chaired by legislator Tendai Biti and it had invited Dr Mangudya to understand if the bank was following all the regulations laid down by the law before securing external loans.

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