Should RBZ print more foreign currency?

As the economy continues to grapple with the liquidity crisis, with the dollarization honeymoonproving to be nearing sunset, desperate Zimbabweans are resorting to desperate andunorthodox measures.

I once heard that one of our illustrious politicians advised VaGono that the Reserve Bank should print more foreign currency as an urgent ‘Monetary Policy’ measure. One may laugh, but there are some unscrupulous agentswho are printing counterfeit notes, especially Rands.

These counterfeitnotes, called zvidhuura, are usually traded by parallel market money changers who entice their clients by offering ahigh rate for US dollars.

The fake money changers can usually be found in theEastgate area, going along Robert Mugabe Road up to Roadport area. The fake money is very well printed and peoplewill not quickly realize that they have been duped, since they don’t use Rands often.

They will only realize when they try to use the money in retail stores or other shops where there are devices to detect counterfeit money.

As the British pound, Euro, United States dollar, South African rand and Botswana pula are all legal tender here now, one would expect to see Bureau de Change shops everywhere. But there are none.

The safest way to buy currencies is through the banks, but I know many people circumvent banks as they offer lower rates, not to mention the frustrating bureaucracy and delays.

There are some distinct security features one should always check on the Rand notes to ensure they are not counterfeit. The genuine notes have a special windowed security threadwoven into paper. On the front the thread appears as a silvery stripe with windows in between, but when held up to direct light, it appears as a continuous line on which letters “SARB” can be seen.

The counterfeit money has a blurred stripe made of silver nail polish. Genuine notes also have a water mark on the left, which becomes visible when held against direct light.

During the Easter holidays, these unscrupulous money changers made a killing, as the demand for Rands was high, with many people travelling to South Africa. As I was on a bus heading to Johannesburg, I witnessed an old woman fall victim to these money changers.

She bought her Rands on the parallelmarket at Roadport, and when she tried to pay her busfare, she was told the money was counterfeit and was left stranded.

The Government should come up with smart ways of eliminating the illegal foreign exchange parallel market to protect its innocent citizens from being duped of their hard earned monies.

It should create competitive formal structures, driven by market forces, where people can buy their foreign currency. However, until such a solution comes, folks should be careful.

Post published in: Business

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