Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Suppliers Association of Zimbabwe has petitioned the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe for a dialogue over alleged imbalances in foreign currency allocation to industries which they said .
The central bank has been of late showing negligence towards the provision of foreign currency to ICT Suppliers whose business model revolves around importing ICT hardware and other critical technologies from leading technology vendors outside the country.
The prevailing foreign currency shortages has put the Reserve Bank on a very tight corner prompting the central bank to design a priority list which the apex bank now uses to allocate forex to industrial layers.
According to the ICT Suppliers Association, their sector has been sidelined from the priority list of foreign payments and this impacted negatively on their operations as they have resorted to either buying forex on the parallel market as well as demanding cash payments.
“We have noticed with great concern that there is no explicit mention of ICT payments as a priority one (high) payment on the priority list of foreign payments following our previous breakfast meeting which was attended by the Deputy Governor on the 22nd of September 2016 and ICT Supplying companies are still facing challenges with regards to foreign payments,” noted ICT Suppliers Association.
Local manufacturers who produce export goods have high priority over other players, with the RBZ aiming to capacitate local producers to increase exports which will in turn yield more forex remittances.
The Health Sector and the retail industry also follows on the high priority list under a strategy which the central bank structured to keep a constant supply of consumer goods in supermarkets.
However, such a strategy has seen the ICT and entertainment service industries getting lesser priority on foreign currency allocation. This move exerted massive pressure on big players like Multichoice Zimbabwe which saw the entertainment giant cutting relations with various local banks and confining all DSTV subscriptions to foreign currency payments only.
The ICT suppliers were also the major victims to be hard-done by the central bank’s foreign currency allocation arrangement resulting in many suppliers resorting to buying forex from the black market at premiums between 40% and 50%.
This has made the ICT suppliers’s business a military zone to operate due to the continuous resurgent of foreign currency traders in the black market who can change prices at any given point. Some ICT suppliers have since shut down operations due to the lack of access to foreign currency.
Such a situation has now forced the ICT Suppliers Association of Zimbabwe to invite RBZ seeking to reach a favorable consensus on the foreign currency allocation debacle.
The 29th of April will see the ICT Suppliers Association of Zimbabwe, and other members of the Computer Society of Zimbabwe convening with the central bank to address the foreign currency allocation to the ICT supply sector.