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74 exporting firms blacklisted

Godfrey Marawanyika

THE Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) has blacklisted 74 exporters who failed to meet last week’s deadline to remit their export earnings.

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The firms have been barred with immediate effect from accessing foreign currency on the auction system.

The blacklisted firms are among the initial 200 companies which failed to remit a total of US$175 million in export earnings when the deadline expired last week.

The latest development comes against a backdrop of the central bank’s hard line stance against defaulters a fortnight ago in which it published a list of 220 firms accused of non-acquittal of the regulatory Currency Declaration (CD1) forms and not repatriating export earnings by the December 15 deadline.

A central bank spokesperson this week confirmed the classification of the firms, adding that the latter have again been barred from accessing foreign currency through the auction floor system.

“By the end of Sunday February 22, at least 74 exporters had not yet responded,” the spokesperson said. “As indicated in the media, all exporters that did not respond at all by February 22 would be handed over to the National Economic Conduct Inspectorate (Neci), Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) and the police for further investigations with the aim of prosecution.

“Exporters who fail to fully comply with the Reserve Bank’s directive will not be allowed to access foreign currency from the auction floors and their other exchange control requests will not be attended to until they clear their record of overdue export payments.”

Although the decision was taken to publish the list of defaulting firms not all the published names had not yet repatriated their money to the RBZ by the end of last year.

This has however been blamed on bureaucratic banking procedures.

The central bank said the offending parties were causing foreign currency shortages and pain to the innocent public.

Despite the amendments of the CD1 forms in 2002 by the central bank this has failed to stop the continued hemorrhaging of foreign currency, which was largely caused by the distorted foreign currency system as exporters were under-invoicing their products.

The central bank this week published another set of firms which had not yet complied, bringing the total number of firms published so far to 340.

Following the RBZ’s meeting with the companies concerned the central bank has so far received US$5 million.

“Some exporters have pledged to repatriate another US$15 million in the next seven days,” the spokesperson said.

“Over US$36 million was cleared and work is underway to reconcile with other exporters.

“All those exporters who responded or are making significant efforts to clear their CD1 non-acquittals or immediately call for payments of overdue amounts, will be allowed to continue exporting but under the close scrutiny of the RBZ, Zimra and Neci.”

The list of firms that had not responded to the RBZ warnings included parastatals, Zimbabwe Stock Exchange listed firms as well as prominent indigenous entities.

The businesses had utilised facilitites offered by virtually all the country’s commercial banks.

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