Banks ‘prejudice’ civil servants, pensioners

BANKS are still allegedly prejudicing civil servants and pensioners by failing to provide them with debit cards to access and spend their United States dollar Covid-19 allowances.

The Public Service Commission (PSC) said the foreign currency allowances will not be disbursed in notes form but civil servants and pensioners will use their nostro bank account electronic cards to swipe for goods.

Government has since urged banks to stop prejudicing beneficiaries by failing to provide them with debit cards so that they have access to their allowances. Some banks stand accused of allegedly forcing civil servants and pensioners to liquidate their Covid-19 allowances using rates below the prevailing forex auction rate.

On their part, some retailers say they do not have point of sale (POS) machines to facilitate the forex payments.

Addressing the Zanu-PF Midlands Province Coordinating Committee meeting at the Winery Convention Centre in Gweru over the weekend, Finance and Economic Development Minister Professor Mthuli Ncube said banks were “undercutting” civil servants and pensioners.

He said Government has noted with concern that civil servants and pensioners have been facing challenges utilising their US$75 and US$30 respectively deposited into their accounts with shops saying no system has been put in place for them to swipe while some civil servants are yet to be issued with bank cards by financial institutions. Minister Ncube said banks and retailers should put in place systems for civil servants and pensioners to access and utilise their allowances without any difficulties.

“After allowing civil servants to open their accounts, they are not even telling them. They should issue them with cards so that they can swipe. So, we have issued a strong warning to the banks to desist from undercutting the civil servants,” he said.

“Government is releasing Covid-19 allowances for civil servants and pensioners and it should be easy to access, but what is happening is that banks are supposed to issue them with cards, but we have noticed that some of them (banks) don’t want to issue them with debit cards. Please don’t undercut us; they are undercutting civil servants and pensioners.”

Prof Ncube said after opening accounts for civil servants and pensioners, some banks were not alerting them.

He said some banks were also forcing civil servants and pensioners to liquidate their allowances using low rates when compared to the prevailing auction rate.

“Banks should not force civil servants and pensioners to liquidate the allowances. We are paying banks in hard currency and they should access it with the real value it has. We are using US$36 million a month towards these allowances for civil servants and pensioners and the banks and retailers must do the right thing. We have paid US$36 million a month for these two months and we are left with a single month. It’s a question of ethics on the part of banks,” said Prof Ncube.-chronicles.co.zw

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