AUTHORITIES say people should not panic over the decision to allow fuel companies with free funds to import and sell petrol and diesel in foreign currency — as this is part of measures needed to stabilise the Zimbabwe dollar, the Daily News reports.
This comes as the country is experiencing acute shortages of both petrol and diesel, which have seen thousands of desperate commuters resorting to walking across cities and towns due to the fuel and transport problems.
Yesterday, Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) governor John Mangudya reiterated that the country was in the process of moving away from the general use of the US dollar in the economy, to return to the sole use of the local currency.
As such, Mangudya said, allowing fuel companies and filling stations with their own foreign currency to import their supplies directly served to stabilise the Zimbabwe dollar, while also promoting the use of the local currency.
“The transition to the exclusive use of the local currency is … a process and not an event.
“This means putting in place de-dollarisation milestones that take into account the realities on the ground that free funds are free to be used by their holders and that export retentions are still in place for use by exporters,” he said.
“This is critical to ensure that confidence is maintained and increased and that the local currency is not alienated.
“It is because of the above that free funds can be used to purchase fuel being procured by oil marketing companies under the direct fuel import scheme, without resorting to the foreign exchange from the interbank and or government. The same applies to electricity imports.
“Under these circumstances, the use of free funds for domestic transactions should not be confused as going back to dollarisation but as a pragmatic transition or approach to de-dollarisation,” Mangudya said.
“This is in line with international and regional best practice of de-dollarisation.
“Experiences in other countries show that most countries took between five to 10 years to complete the de-dollarisation process. Zimbabwe is just starting,” he further said.
Zimbabwe is experiencing severe shortages that include fuel, power, critical medicines and foreign currency.
Commuters across the country have been spending long hours on road sides, waiting for transport to and from work — after fuel shortages worsened this month.
In a bid to deal with the crisis, the RBZ recently directed fuel companies with their own funds to import their supplies directly and to also charge in US dollars.
However, this has sparked much debate, with critics accusing the government of inconsistency and hypocrisy on the use of the coveted US dollar.