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XINHUA NEWS SERVICE REPORTS FROM THE AFRICAN CONTINENT

 

Zimbabwe loses support of 50 international banks in past decade

 

HARARE Zimbabwe (Xinhua) -- Zimbabwe has lost the support of 50 international banks in the past decade due to Western sanctions, central bank governor John Mangudya said Wednesday.

With now only three international banks are availing credit to it, Zimbabwe had become starved of foreign finance to develop its stuttering economy, Mangudya said.

The international financial institutions provided services such as wire transfers, business transactions, accepted deposits and gathered documents on behalf of local banks, Mangudya said.

“Zimbabwe is a very isolated country. We only have about two or three banks throughout the whole world than can finance us. The rest see Zimbabwe as a high risk country, as a result our access to foreign currency is so minimal,” the governor was quoted as saying by state-run news agency New Ziana.

He said Zimbabwe’s current economic challenges were emanating from the Western sanctions.

Zimbabwe adopted multiple foreign currencies in 2009 after its currency had been rendered worthless by a decade of hyperinflation.

However, the country is struggling to keep the multi-currency system in place as it does not have access to direct support from multilateral and other international financial institutions.

Out of the nine currencies in the multiple currency basket, the U.S. dollar has become the dominant currency but it is now in short supply due to low exports and externalization, according to the government.

Local bond notes introduced by the central bank last November have failed to tame a cash shortage gripping the economy.

Mangudya said the cash shortages can only be addressed by solving the country’s fiscal deficit, trade deficit, consumptive spending and market indiscipline.

He added that Zimbabwe prematurely dollarized in 2009 before putting correct fundamentals in place.

“If it was in the context of building, we were supposed to have what is called a special foundation. We should not have opened up the economy the way we did,” Mangudya said.

Meanwhile, the governor was quoted by the local media Wednesday as saying that the central bank was looking at increasing the 200 million Afreximbank facility backing the bond notes.

The notes are trading at par with the U.S. dollar and the central bank has disbursed 160 million bond notes so far.

Media reports say some of the bond notes are being traded in Zimbabwe’s neighboring countries, contributing to the ongoing cash shortages.

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EARLIER REPORTS:

Zimbabwe tourist arrivals up six per cent in first quarter

HARARE international (Xinhua) -- Zimbabwe registered a 6-percent rise in tourist arrivals in the first quarter of 2017 to 479,718 up from 450,572 during the same period last year, the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) said Wednesday.

The ZTA said the increase was mainly driven by the 5-percent rise in arrivals from mainland Africa, along with all other major markets except Asia, which registered a 4-percent decline.

According to the ZTA, Africa continued to command the bulk of arrivals in Zimbabwe with an 84-percent market share, followed by Europe (7 percent), the United States (5 percent), Asia (3 percent) and the Middle East and the Oceania (1 percent).

The ZTA, however, expressed concern at the stagnation of arrivals from South Africa, the country’s major market.

“This calls for serious consideration in addressing facilitation issues especially at Beitbridge Border post. There is also need to seriously look at upgrading roads especially the Harare-Beitbridge highway,” the ZTA said.

During the period, arrivals from Europe rose by 29 percent to 35,381 from 27,433 with increases in most major markets including Britain that registered a growth of 132 percent, France (76 percent) and Germany (8 percent).

“The increase in European arrivals is a positive development considering the fact that this region closed with an 18-percent decline in 2016. The European market share stood at 7 percent and is second only to Africa, thus Europe, remains as the greatest overseas market for the country,” the ZTA said.

The Americas had been a major expanding market in 2016 and continued to increase in the first quarter of 2017, contributing 23,297 arrivals, 3 percent up from 22,620 in the first quarter of 2016, the ZTA said.

Zimbabwe received 2.2 million tourist arrivals in 2016 generating an estimated 819 million dollars in revenue, up from 2 million received in 2015.

The country is targeting to reach 5 million tourist arrivals by 2020.

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Zimbabwe surpasses 2017 first half revenue target

HARARE Zimbabwe (Xinhua) -- Zimbabwe surpassed its revenue target for the first half of 2017 by 9.74 percent after net collections stood at 1.701 billion U.S. dollars against 1.550 billion dollars collected during the same period last year.

Gross collections for the period under review stood at 1.789 billion dollars, 8.05 percent above target, the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (ZIMRA) said Thursday.

“Company tax, valued added tax on imports, mining royalties, dividends, fees, interest remittances and other indirect taxes surpassed their set targets for the first half of 2017,” ZIMRA said.

ZIMRA attributed the positive performance to revenue enhancement measures it is implementing such as automation, audits and anti-corruption initiatives.

Board chairperson Willia Bonyongwe said the tax agency was upping its fight against tax corruption, pointing out that during the period, the anti-corruption hotline received 394 reports, out of which 218 were fully investigated while the remaining cases were still under different stages of investigation.

“The investigations yielded about 120 million dollars in assessments,” Bonyongwe said.

She called for more measures to increase tax compliance, noting that “most traders in the central business district and major shopping centers are yet to comply.”

Bonyongwe said Zimbabwe could easily collect 6 billion dollars in revenue annually if everyone was tax compliant.

She said tax debt increased by 16.85 percent during the first half from 2.76 billion dollars in January to 3.12 billion dollars as at June 30, as companies struggle to survive in the difficult economic environment.

Zimbabwe’s projected revenue target for 2017 is 3.4 billion dollars against an expenditure of 3.7 billion dollars.

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Zimbabwe expecting more trafficked women to return from Kuwait

HARARE (Xinhua) -- Zimbabwe said Wednesday it is expecting more women who were trafficked to Kuwait to come back home.

Zimbabwe learnt last year that an estimated 200 Zimbabwean women were stranded in Kuwait after falling victim into human trafficking schemes.

Since then, 128 women have been returned to Zimbabwe. They had been lured to the Arab country after being promised lucrative jobs only to be turned into slaves by their employers.

The Zimbabwean government said the women were recruited by friends and relatives. While in Kuwait, the women were subjected to harsh working environments and suffered physical abuse.

The first group of 32 women was repatriated in April 2016 while the latest group arrived back in the country in May.

Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Public Service, Labor and Social Welfare Ngoni Masoka said more women were still expected back in the country from Kuwait.

“It is worth mentioning that more women are still expected to come as more awareness is raised with the support of the Zimbabwean Embassy in Kuwait,” the permanent secretary said while addressing a parliamentary committee Wednesday.

To reduce vulnerabilities that may push victims back into being trafficked, the International Organization of Migration in partnership with the ministry had sourced funding for provision of medical and psycho-social support to the identified victims, Masoka said.

“The first hundred returnees have submitted project proposals that will be funded to a maximum of 1,500 dollars each to start income generating projects,” he said.

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Zimbabwe bans use of kaylite over health, pollution concerns

HARARE Zimbabwe (Xinhua) -- Zimbabwe has banned the use of expanded polystyrene, commonly referred to as kaylite, as it moves to protect public health and stop massive pollution caused by wanton discarding.

Environmental Management Agency (EMA) spokesperson Steady Kangata confirmed to Xinhua that the ban targeting products used to package takeaway and refrigerated foods was with immediate effect.

A notice issued Wednesday by the board chairperson of EMA Zenzo Nsimbi said that the ban was effected in line with a 2012 statutory instrument that prohibited the manufacture or importation of kaylite for use or commercial distribution within the country.

“The ban has been effected after wide consultation in order to protect the citizens of Zimbabwe from the environmental and health impacts caused by expanded polystyrene,” he said.

He added that anybody who violated the ban would be guilty of an offense.

The move has taken many food outlet operators by surprise, with a supermarket worker saying she wondered how they would continue serving their customers with takeaway food.

“So are we going to ask them to bring their own plates and cups?” she said.

Many outlets offering takeaway food have been using the kaylite in lieu of proper plates and cups.

Consumers have, however, not been binning them after use, resulting in the clogging of storm drains and a higher prevalence of flooding in the city center and littering of the country’s rivers.

Even the highways have become heavily littered as people threw the kaylite out of moving vehicles after finishing their meals.

Results of a research by the University of Zimbabwe that was published recently said kaylite contained cancer-causing styrene which could migrate to food as it was warmed or refrigerated.

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Namibia prime ahead of clash with Zimbabwe’s ‘Sables’ in Gold Cup tie

WINDHOEK Namibia (Xinhua) -- Namibia’s Rugby team ‘Welwitschias’ assistant coach Rodger Thompson said his team is ready to retain the Gold Cup ahead of their tie against Zimbabwe’s ‘Sables’ on July 15 in Windhoek at the Hage Geinob Stadium.

Namibia recently came out victorious after they thumped Senegal 95-0 last week and retuned to the top of the table, three points ahead of Kenya ‘Simbas’.

“We all know of how potent the Zimbabwe back three is, but we are prepared for their team, both physically and mentally,” Thompson said on Wednesday.

According to Thompson, the ‘Sables’ always present a different challenge and to counter that he said that Namibia went back to the drawing board to fix the obvious problems, like their kick game.

Furthermore he said that since his team is a mixture of talent in all age groups, they are going to use the seniors to boost the confidence of the juniors.

“We have a healthy balance of juniors in the team, so basically we might say our fitness levels are on point,” he said.

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