GG: First of all, I would like to state that in my first term, I continued the dialogue that my predecessor, Mr John Mushayavanhu, had been having with all stakeholders, including our own Regulators, the Central Bank and Ministry of Finance on how BAZ can best service the various sectors of the economy. I would say that my biggest achievement in my first term was to create a platform in which BAZ will be more visible, and more interactive with the public. The creation of 2 new positions of Senior Economist and Advocacy Officer will enable BAZ to engage and dialogue with all stakeholders on issues of mutual interest, especially on financial literacy, operations of the banking industry and how to teach children to save.
GG: As BAZ, we believe that the industry should self regulate and adhere to high ethical standards. We will be playing a very proactive and interactive role with all stakeholders so that our services are well understood. We would also like to engage through various channels all those who are unbanked and ensure that we provide the necessary platform for them to be serviced.
GG: Our bank charges in Zimbabwe are generally comparable to those levied in the region. We should however note that we operate in different environments with different challenges. Our tight liquidity conditions, and generally lower business volumes, are pitted against significantly higher costs of utilities such as communication and electricity costs.
However, I am confident that going into the future, the banking public will enjoy better service at competitive costs as our economy improves, foreign lines of credit are availed and volumes of business improves.
GG: Firstly, we need to restore confidence in the banking system so that potential savers can increase the use of the services of banks. Since dollarization, it is our belief that some of the potential savers have chosen to keep their funds outside the banking system. Lines of credit have also been very limited and inflows of new money from FDI and other sources have been virtually nonexistent. BAZ will engage the appropriate stakeholders so that we can work towards creating an environment where both savers and investors have confidence in the economy as was the case in the past.
GG: The latest RBZ Monthly Bulletin shows that total banking sector deposits surged to US$ 4.02 billion during the month of May 2013 reflecting a 1.26 percent month on month increase from the US$ 3.97 billion recorded in April 2013 and roughly 12.23 percent growth on the US$3.580 billion as at May 2012. The rise and decline are directly associated with the confidence in the banking system and the performance of the economy.
GG: As far as I am aware, there is no law. The laws of the country are very clear and even in cases of dispute, there are procedures to be followed via the law courts. This also applies to cases where individuals have acquired funds via criminal activities including money laundering.
GG: The BAZ position on indigenization has always been very clear in that we believe that the sector is sufficiently indigenized. Naturally as an Association, we respect and adhere to the laws of the country.
GG: I think our principals have been engaging on this matter and our views as an Association representing all banks, has been fully articulated.
GG: As banks we agree with the concept of deposit protection and the need for the Deposit Protection Corporation to be well capitalized in order to play its role.
GG: I believe this question should really be directed at our Regulators i.e. the Central Bank and the Ministry of Finance.
GG: Both the Minister of Finance and our Regulator, Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe have been consistent in reiterating the soundness of our banking sector. As bankers, we are confident that the banking system remains sound, despite the challenges it has continued to face.
GG: At the heart of a healthy financial system in any country, is a well-capitalized Central Bank that plays the role of lender of last resort and a catalytic role in activating the interbank market. At the advent of the multicurrency regime, the Central Bank, like all institutions, has not been able to play that role sufficiently due to capital constraints.
GG: We do not subscribe to the notion that the sector is overbanked. As BAZ we believe that there is a wide market for our services and that there are still a number of sectors and individuals who still require services of banks. The more banks there are, the better the choice is for all those who require services from banks. The recent Finscope survey shows that a significant number of the adult population is still excluded from the financial sector.
GG: The future of the banking sector is bright. There is great potential for the sector to continue producing innovative products to satisfy the growing economy of Zimbabwe.
GG: Different institutions have different strategies when it comes to lending or attracting deposits. Some banks will therefore have appetite of lending to manufacturers, whilst others prefer servicing sectors such as mining, agriculture, tourism etc.
GG: We believe that there is scope for the Bankers Association to widen the scope of understanding on how banks operate. It is for this reason that we have now an Advocacy Officer who will roll out a nationwide programme which we believe will educate all Zimbabweans about the operations of the banking sector including the services that banks provide.
GG: I believe it is fair that this question be directed to the Central Bank as they keep up to date records on returns by banks.