RBZ Hikes Interest Rates: The Implications

RBZ Hikes Interest Rates: The Implications

Further to the Statutory Instrument 142 of 2019 issued by the Hon Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Prof Mthuli Ncube, on the removal of the multi-currency system in Zimbabwe and replacing it with a local unit of account (RTGS$/ZWL$) for transacting purposes, the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe wishes to announce that it will implement the following support measures to buttress and strengthen the local unit of account: 1. Direct banks to transfer to the Reserve Bank the RTGS$/ZWL$s that they are holding as counterpart funds for the foreign currency historical or legacy debt that Government, through the Reserve Bank, is assuming at the rate of 1: 1 between the RTGS$ and the US$. This measure is expected to mop around ZLW$1.2 billion from the market by the end of this week. 2. Adjust the interest rate on the Reserve Bank overnight window upwards from the current 15% per annum to 50% per annum in line with inflation trends. 3. Remove administrative limits on the operation of bureaux de change and on the cap on margins for banks for interbank foreign exchange transactions. 4. Put a vesting period of 90 days on disposal of dual listed securities or shares purchased by investors on the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange. 5. Increase supply of foreign currency into interbank foreign market by ensuring that at least 50% of the surrender portion of foreign currency is sold to the interbank market. This will be supplemented by the use of Letters of Credit (LCs) for the importation of essential commodities that include fuel, cooking oil, and wheat. The Bank has put in place LCs amounting to US$330 million for this purpose.

Implications of the new measures (A Thread) 1) This will mop excess liquidity to the tune of $1.2b and in the process reduce pressure on the exchange rate since the payments will be done at 1:1 from the RBZ. Key issue will be availability of the forex to meet this quantum 2) The move is meant to divert pressure that was coming on the exchange rate from borrowing customers. By increasing the cost of borrowing, the RBZ has limited credit creation and hence money supply. This is essential for exchange rate stability. 3) The removal of administrative limits on banks and beaureu de changes will allow them to correctly price foreign currency on their Buy and Sell Trades. As a result they are technically empowered to match the Alt Market. This move should deal a heavy blow to Alt Mkt activities! 4) A 90 day vesting period disqualifies holders of shares from disposing the same within the 90 day period. Effectively investors will not be able to speculate with easy. Importantly the move will address the challenge around the OMIR arbitrage! 5) The 50% surrender requirement will be a huge disincentive to exporters. However if the Interbank market rate will be competitive enough to match rates elsewhere in the market, then there wont be any loss in value to exporters on conversion to the local currency.