Consumers and retailers of beverages are up in arms with giant beverages manufacturer Delta for compelling them to pay for orders partly in foreign currency which is hurting their businesses.
In an unprecedented move which has triggered fluctuating high prices of both alcoholic and non alcoholic beverages, ZBC News has it on good authority that the biggest maker of beverages in the country Delta is accepting payments for orders only if 20 percent of the amount is in foreign currency.
This news crew visited one of the company’s depots in Harare and found disgruntled retailers who expressed dissatisfaction and dismay at this arrangement.
“You cannot make orders if you don’t pay some portion in foreign currency. What they tell us is that you bring US$100 and it is exchanged at a rate of 1 is to 2.5 RTGS$. If you bring electronic money or RTGS$ they won’t accept and that is why the queue is short,” said one of bottle-store operator.
It has since been established that retailers are now forced to buy forex from the usually highly priced parallel market with the cost being passed on to the consumer.
“The price of beer continues to go up on a daily basis and we can’t predict and plan our consumption,” said one of the customers, while the other one said; “How do I plan for my weekend if the prices continue to go up? Besides I can’t get enough of beer due to the high beer prices”.
In an interview with ZBC News, the company came out clean on this payment model with the group communications manager Patricia Murambinda saying the central bank and the inter-bank market cannot meet its US$120 million foreign currency requirement annually.
“We are a very big consumer of foreign currency and obviously the authorities have failed to provide us with foreign currency as agreed when they promised us last year. The operation and maintenance of our plant as well as other critical raw materials all demand forex hence the move to partly charge retailers in forex,” she said.
With revelations that the nostro balances held by banks now top over $700 million, various business organisations have called on the authorities to let the RTGS dollar float so that holders of foreign currency can release it onto the market at fair value.
Due to the depressed rates on the inter-bank market, trading remains subdued with many companies still using the black market to source forex.
Analysts say this trend is what is causing companies to devise means, sometimes at the expense of consumers and the economy in order to stay afloat.