The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) has assured international airlines operating sales offices in Zimbabwe that acceptance of bond notes as payment method will not affect repatriation of their funds.
Winnie Muchanyuka, the Board of Airlines Representatives chairperson who is also South African Airways country manager, was quoted by local news agency Financial Express as saying that airlines operating in Zimbabwe will be accepting bond notes when they are launched anytime this month.
“As a result, international airlines will be accepting bond notes as payment as long as the Governor keeps his word,” she said.
According to the International Air Transport Association, repatriation of funds is part of the business and Muchanyuka said the RBZ is currently prioritising airline repatriations and happy with the progress.
“This is the assurance that we wanted and the RBZ has given us, and encouraged us to continue to accept whatever currency we accept and they facilitate the currency for us to repatriate. (This is) Because we were worried about how we were going to convert bonds notes to US dollars,” she said.
Muchanyuka said this is a viable arrangement if the central bank keeps its own end of the continuum, adding there are clear indications that airline repatriation will be given priority.
“We are happy, and at the rate we are going there all indications (are) that our repatriations will be given priority, and that is enough for us,” said Muchanyuka.
“A number of countries in the region are facing currency problems and Zimbabwe is not an exception, therefore the arrangement came handy for us,” she said.
Zimbabwe is set to introduce bond notes primarily as an export incentive, but also as a way of preventing imported US dollar notes from being siphoned out of the economy.
The RBZ is on record as saying it is importing US$15m weekly to ease the cash shortages in the country.
However, the imported notes rarely find their way back into the banking system once they are withdrawn.
This is partly because informal traders, who now constitute the bulk of the Zimbabwean economy, do not use banking channels, preferring to take the hard notes across the border to import their merchandise.