THE Government has agreed with both banks and shops on how civil servants can use their US$75 monthly allowances and Government pensioners their US$30 tax-free Covid-19 relief allowances, and the money has been transferred to banks.
Finance and Economic Development Minister Professor Mthuli Ncube said the arrangements for bank accounts to be created and shops to be able to receive payments were now in place, and that allowed the start of the payment of the allowances.
Prof Ncube told the briefing after the Cabinet meeting that the Government had since transferred the money to banks and civil servants and Government pensioners should be able to use the money very soon.
“Yes the modalities for accessing the money have now been put in place. Banks were supposed to come up with ways to open accounts; that has been done, that was the first step.
“The second step was to make sure retailers are able to receive payments for goods and services, so that has been put in place. Please note that there has been progress and that allowance is tax-free as previously announced and we will capture that in the Finance Bill,” said Prof Ncube.
There has been anxiety among civil servants after some of them received messages from the banks notifying them about the US dollar deposits but could not access the money because the modalities had not yet been spelt out to both the banks and shops.
This was after the Government had indicated that the money would not be withdrawn in physical notes, but through electronic cards that would be used in shops.
Earlier on, Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister, Monica Mutsvangwa, said Cabinet received principles to tighten the Copper Control Act owing to the upsurge in cases of vandalism and theft of cables resulting in destruction of infrastructure at Zesa, TelOne and National Railways Zimbabwe.
It was noted the vandalism not only led to loss of lives due to accidents, but took a toll on the economy.
“The amendments seek to institute stiffer penalties in order to curb the theft of copper and related products and thereby safeguard the critical infrastructure.”
The minister said the amendment Bill will seek, among other provisions, to criminalise: vandalism of equipment and theft of power transmission cables; dealing in stolen copper; and all dealership without possession of certificate of origin for all the copper they deal in. Penalties will rise with the mandatory sentence for those found dealing illegally in copper being 30 years.
She said Cabinet approved the Devolution and Decentralisation Policy, as part of the formulation process for the National Development Strategy for 2020-2025.
Minister Mutsvangwa said the policy establishes the necessary conditions for provincial and rural district councils as well as other lower-tier governance and administrative structures to exercise devolved powers.
“The empowered sub-national entities will be supervised through policies and Acts of Parliament which are consistent with the Constitution. Consequently, some sections of the Constitution will be amended and the enabling legislation aligned to the Constitution,” said Minister Mutsvangwa.