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Chinamasa given a torrid time in Parliament over cash shortages

Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa was yesterday given a torrid time over the present cash shortage in the country after legislators insisted that he must explain why there was no cash at the banks but plenty at Roadport and why people were being allowed to charge premiums of up to 35 percent.

He said he needed time to do research and would make a ministerial statement next week because he is not available today.

Below is what transpired.

*HON. MAPIKI: My question is directed to the Minister of Finance and Economic Development. What is Government’s policy regarding agents who are charging 35% on Ecocash withdrawals? Secondly, what is Government going to do with regards to people who are selling cash at 35% through bank transfers?

*THE MINISTER OF FINANCE AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT (HON. CHINAMASA): I thank the Hon. Member for the pertinent question. My request is that may he please write this question down so that I can have enough time to make a thorough research and give a comprehensive report. The reason why I am asking him to put that in writing is because he talked about accessing cash through Ecocash and therefore I need to be given detailed information so that I can give the nation Government’s position regarding that.

Now regarding the illegal disbursement of cash by cash barons, I can tell this august House that there are some individuals who have been apprehended by the Reserve Bank for the illegal disbursements of cash.

*HON. MAPIKI: My supplementary question is that, is there a policy right now which outlaws this practice because we need to put strict laws which will lead to the conviction and incarceration of offenders involved in  money laundering.  As yet, we do not have a mandatory prison term for these people involved in money laundering.  What we only have are banking rules which punish such offenders.

THE HON. SPEAKER:  The Rules and Orders are very clear.  You allow the Hon. Minister to respond and if you have supplementary questions, you rise and shall be recognised.  – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjection.] – Can we have order.  Hon. Minister, can you complete your response.

*HON. CHINAMASA:  I was saying that we do not yet have promulgation that whosoever is convicted of money laundering should be convicted but as of now, we are drafting an amendment Bill so that whoever is convicted of money laundering should have a mandatory prison term.  However, suffice to say, we are looking at the Banking Act which allows the Reserve Bank to impose penalties on offenders.  So far, we have had some organisations which have been convicted and penalised using this banking law. 

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