Pharmacies in hot soup over currency manipulation
Harare (New Ziana) – A total of seventeen pharmacies countrywide have been found to be using black market exchange rates, and face possible revocation of trading licences, the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development said on Tuesday.
It said its Financial Intelligence Unit had found the pharmacies in several towns and cities using parallel exchange rates ranging from Z$8 500 to the greenback, to Z$11 000 to the US dollar.
On Tuesday, the official exchange rate stood at ZWL$4 998 to US$1. The pharmacies caught offside were in Kadoma, Chegutu, Kwekwe, Gweru, Rusape and Mutare.
“Government notes with concern that some market players continue to exhibit highly destabilizing forward pricing and speculation in outright violation of exchange control directives as well as standing government policy guidelines with respect to pricing and the use of domestic currency. This practice is particularly rampant but is certainly not limited to the pharmaceutical sector,” the Ministry said.
“Ongoing investigations by the Financial Intelligence Unit have revealed that some pharmacies are using parallel market exchange rates ranging from between ZWL8 500.00 to ZWL11 000.00 against the USD, in complete violation of Government Policy and country’s anti money laundering regulations. Government has instituted measures that will result in the suspension and or cancellation of the trading licences of the following pharmacies,” it added.
The Ministry also said the government remained committed to the broad use of local currency for domestic transactions, and stern measures would be taken against service providers who refused to trade in the Zimbabwe dollar.
“In the same spirit, the Government recently directed all Government Agencies, including Local Authorities to collect their fees and levies in local currency. The transacting public is encouraged to resist all forms of unfair pricing by retailers and to immediately report violations to the Financial Intelligence Unit,” it said.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa at the weekend accused some captains of industry of sabotaging the government’s economic development programmes and policies by manipulating the local currency, among other trading malpractices, and threatened stern action against them.
He said the moves, which included hoarding basic commodities, were meant to profiteer and to stir up public anger against the government in the run-up to next month’s elections in a bid to influence voting.