HARARE – Barclays Bank Zimbabwe (BBZ) has introduced a $500 maximum withdrawal limit per week for individual depositors as the bank aims to contain the current cash shortages with its depositors, the businessdaily has learnt.
Sources said the bank had put in place measures for individuals to withdraw a maximum of $500 per week as corporates get a maximum of $500 per day.
This comes as BBZ managing director George Guvamatanga recently said the central bank must slash cash withdrawal limits from the current $1 000 per day to $500 per week, arguing that the present $1 000 limit was too liberal, worsening the country’s cash shortages.
“Firstly, who at this gathering has enough to be withdrawing $1 000 per day? I know I do not have that much…
“I therefore call upon the central bank to impose a $500 weekly withdrawal limit. The average Zimbabwean deposit is $374 so this limit would be sufficient,” he said.
Guvamatanga — who is also immediate past Bankers Association of Zimbabwe (Baz) president — said at the current limit, depositors were withdrawing too much money, a situation that is not helping the liquidity of most banking institutions.
Zimbabwe has been experiencing acute cash shortages since early March — with queues reminiscent of the hyperinflationary period slowly resurfacing as depositors wait to get their hard-earned money from banks.
Presently, the few banks still giving cash are lowering their maximum withdrawal limits by the day, with reputable foreign-owned banks now disbursing as little as $150 per day.
The central bank last month shaved individual maximum withdrawal limits from $5 000 to $1 000, with corporates — who previously did not have a limit — now forced to withdraw a maximum of $1 000 per day.
However, Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor John Mangudya is on record saying the central bank was going to look at the $500 weekly withdrawal limit under advisement.
“We will consider the $500 weekly limit as a proposal. When we put in place the $1 000 limits, we had taken into consideration factors like the country’s present Point of Sale (Pos) network, which is still poor,” Mangudya said.
In the recent weeks, banks have been issuing a cash ration of as little as $50 per day.
Following these cash challenges, most Zimbabweans had turned to supermarkets for cash-backs as withdrawal means, but some supermarkets have shut down the option.
But the Baz president Charity Jinya is on record saying banks were going to operate on a “Know Your Client” basis where deposits were concerned.
Desperate for cash, Zimbabwe’s financial institutions are now even pleading with deep-pocketed clients to supply them with cash in a move aimed at replenishing their nostro accounts as the country continues to grapple with a biting liquidity crunch.