The Ministry of Finance and Economic Development has accused some local banks of cashing in on civil servants’ United States dollar bonuses through compulsory liquidation of their 13th cheque into local currency.
Civil servants started receiving their bonuses in US dollars this week capped at US$700, with those earning above the limit set to receive the balance in local currency.
The Finance Ministry Friday warned banks against converting US dollar bonuses or levying unnecessary service charges to allow the civil servants to access their bonuses in full. Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube said in a statement:
It has come to the attention of Treasury that some banks are compulsorily liquidating civil servants bonus payments and thereby forcibly paying them in domestic currency.
In addition, banks have resorted to making arbitrary charges against the bonus payments, with some taking significant portions of the wages in the form of bank charges.
The ministry said the practices by banking institutions were taking away the intended benefits of the bonus payments.
Banks were advised that all civil servants should be allowed to withdraw their bonus payments in full US dollar subject only to existing daily cash withdrawal limits set by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe.
Farai Masimu, a teacher who spoke to NewsDay Weekender, expressed anger saying: “I didn’t get my full bonus amount. I only got $180. The rest was lost to service charges, as I was told by the bank authorities.”