Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Statutory Instrument No. 33 of 2012 - Yipppiiiieeee!!!!

The introduction of Statutory Instrument No. 33 of 2012 by the Bank of Zambia is a welcome move for any one interested in making our country Zambia better economically. I find this, an action worth celebrating over.

For starters, it was not making sense to have Kwacha which is ignored in most transactions within the republic as people preferred to trade in US Dollar. The fact that we have a legal tender, we should use it. Why should rental for housing be in US dollars and yet that house is in Zambia, in Zambian economy? There is no problem with one basing the rent on US Dollar, but that must be a good reason to do so. This action undermined kwacha and made it useless as everything was being backed by the dollar.

Dollarisation
This is a term used when citizens of a country use foreign currency (a US Dollar in this case) in parallel to or instead of the domestic currency as a medium of exchange within the domestic economy. So Zambia using any other currency to quote for prices or to demand payment of any services or goods is dollarisation.

Zambia was one country you could quote your goods and services in any currency with no shame. If there was a visit from Congo, they could have even bought in Congo currency.

But this brought with it many problems which are so severe in most cases it can even be damaging to the economy. A stop to this measure was not only needed, but was needed fast!

Benefits of S.I. 33 of 2012
There are so many positive effects that have been mentioned when issues are refered to the S.I. in question. But all in alll, I think there is only one positive effect that can be linked to this measure and the rest are merely as a result of this. This is the issue of controlling monetary policy of a country by the authorities that may be. There is no point in having monetary policy if at the end of the day, the monetary policy in the country is actually controlled from outside the country.

Zambia has a legal tender of Kwacha. So the authorities will defend and protect the Kwacha as it is the sole currency of the economy. Use of dollar or rand, will mean we tie our economic activities to another monetary authority and can even do away with some functions of the central bank. This is only useful in a country which is in a crisis.

So economic players should actually look at this measure and the great benefit it will come with.

Mis-Understandings
One common mis-understanding of the S.I. has been on the international trade. Most people expect the S.I. to block international trade and has thus brought an imbalance in the economy. Some "wise" people went as far as claiming we can't have the S.I. when Zambia is an importing country.
  • Domestic trade is supposed to be conducted in the legal tender of the country. You can never go to the USA and expect to rent a house or buy a TV in Euros or Rands! But you expect this to be done in Zambia? But the problem has been that this dollarisation was left unchecked! So the S.I. simply reminds you of what currency you will use to trade in. It was shameful to walk into these "Real Estate" companies from South Africa even quoting in rands but never in Kwacha!
  • International trade can continue and be conducted in any currency you wish. The only thing one needs to know is that the Kwacha is a convertible currency. That said, you can then simply pay even in Rupees as long as you use the bank system to send your money. They will in turn get your kwacha but send rupees. Simple like all other countries do.
  • The bank system use will make sure the monetary authorities have control over the transactions and enable citizens buy things from anywhere in the world at no cost to our currency! Thats why when you travel out of the country, you get your usual ATM but with draw dollars or rands depending on which country you are in. The system is able to handle all transactions.
  • We have a duty to protect our country and that starts with the currency. Parallel monetary policy has not helped the country at all. (Parallel in the sense that although we have our own monetary policy, it is controlled by currencies that have an embedded monetary policy of the country they come from. We had houses being sold and quoted in dollars leading to the weakening of the Kwacha every single day. Now we can concentrate on making Kwacha strong and viable in the world trade. That starts by making sure it is a legal tender for this country. I don't think I can go buy a car in South Africa with a Kwacha, why should we make possible for anyone else to come and use their currency in our country? 
This is one of the positive issues that economic players in the country should be happy about. After all, the benefits are for all the people around.

I think this measure has been one that has taken too long to be implemented and I'm one of those that think we can do a lot more to help the country prosper!

Well done for S.I. 33 of 2012!


I have heard talk about the problems of the S.I. Basically, the only "errors" the first "errors" I saw was reference to the wrong Act (the typo of year), but that would not injure the spirit of a good law. So we just need to correct that typo and a problematic paragraph and we are good to go. We need such progressive directions in this country to get something out.

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