THE Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) has instructed commercial banks to reduce the opening balance requirement for individual foreign currency accounts (FCAs) from US$500 to US$200.
The directive is meant to induce individuals to open FCAs with local commercial banks and in the process increase foreign currency inflows into the central bank’s coffers.
Zimbabwe is facing a serious foreign currency shortage which has led to it failing to settle debts with neighbouring nations for electricity, fuel and food supplies.
The RBZ has also said individuals can now open FCAs in any currency equivalent to US$200.
Initially, individuals were allowed to open FCAs in United States dollars, South African rands, British pounds or euros only.
Unlike in the past when corporate FCAs were administered by commercial banks, all hard currency accounts will now be administered by the central bank. This is meant to cut back on bureaucracy during monitoring.
Bankers however said the response from individuals was slow.
“So far people have not taken up the balance reduction offer with any enthusiasm. I think people are still sceptical about the initiative,” said a foreign currency dealer with a commercial bank.
“Although the scheme allows people to open accounts in any currency, the response is still slow. Some people are worried that the central bank might end up raiding their individual FCAs.”