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Zimbabwe Cracks Down on Black Market as Currency Plunges | Bloomberg

(10/6/21)

Zimbabwean authorities are arresting informal currency traders who they blame for fueling the latest collapse of the local unit on the black market.

The arrests come four days after Vice President Constantino Chiwenga warned the traders that their activities were undermining government efforts to revive the economy. Seventy-seven offenders have been arrested since Sept. 28 and barred from accessing any financial services for two years with immediate effect.

The arrests are the latest attempt by the government to try and keep control of its currency, the Zimbabwe dollar, through two decades of economic turmoil. The local unit was scrapped after a bout of hyperinflation in 2009 and trade in the greenback and other currencies was permitted.

It was reintroduced in 2019 at parity with the American currency but quickly plummeted. Attempts to keep the official rate stable have often seen the gap with the black market rate widen.

“The runaway parallel market rate is a concern and it causes dislocations on how the final product is priced,” Kurai Matsheza, president of the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries, the country’s biggest business group, said by phone.

The Zimbabwe dollar changes hands on the streets of Harare, the capital, for Z$170 per U.S. dollar, while the official rate is Z$88.55. Its recent drop in value has fueled inflation, with businesses raising prices to hedge against the currency volatility. The official inflation rate rose for the first time in eight months in September, reaching 52%.

The Financial Intelligence Unit accused the traders of abusing mobile telecommunications services and social media platforms to promote and facilitate illegal foreign-exchange transactions and money laundering activities, according to John Mangudya, the governor of the central bank.

“The FIU has also requested the Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe to bar the said individuals from operating mobile-phone lines,” he said in an emailed statement.

Lawmakers discussed the widening gap between the official and parallel market exchange rate at a pre-budget seminar on Wednesday.

The central bank had to urgently act against companies that accessed foreign currency at the official rate at weekly auctions, but priced their goods and services based on parallel market rates, Gift Mugano, the executive director at Africa Economic Development Strategies, which does policy research, told the seminar.

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2021-10-06/zimbabwe-cracks-down-on-black-market-as-currency-plunges

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Tishwash:  Iraq is without a parliament, starting today…and parliamentarians are without immunity

In a precedent of its kind in the history of the Iraqi elections, from 2005 to 2018, the Iraqi parliament refused to hold a parliamentary session to announce its dissolution 60 days before the elections, as stipulated in the constitution.

Parliament justified its refusal by saying that it fears that if it dissolves itself within the period stipulated in the constitution, the government will refuse to transform itself into a daily caretaker government, and thus it will remain free-hand without legislative and oversight cover.

The refusal came in light of a previous agreement that Parliament would dissolve itself three days before the early elections scheduled for next Sunday. Thus, the Iraqi parliament will have dissolved itself, starting today, without holding a session to take such a decision.

On March 31, the House of Representatives voted to dissolve itself on October 7, 2021, at the request of 172 deputies out of a total number of 329 deputies, in a decision that entered into force today in preparation for holding the first elections next Sunday.

As of today, Iraq has no legislative authority in implementation of Article 64 of the Iraqi Constitution, which states that “the House of Representatives has the ability to dissolve itself at the request of one-third of its members, or from the Prime Minister with the approval of the President of the Republic, and the government in this case is considered resigned and only exercises the discharge of Business”.

With the dissolution of Parliament, which was unable to hold its sessions during the last few period due to the long electoral campaign that exceeded three months, while it is scheduled to be only one month before the elections, the current government headed by Mustafa Al-Kazemi also automatically turned into a daily caretaker government.

Representatives are without immunity

Regarding the situation of Iraqi parliamentarians after the dissolution of their parliament, legal expert Tariq Harb confirmed that they return from midday today, Thursday, as ordinary citizens without immunity and privileges, explaining that the government has turned into a conduct of business for daily affairs.

He said: “By raising the parliamentary status of the deputies, they return to their original status as ordinary citizens, deprived of the privileges and immunity they enjoyed as deputies.”  link

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Tishwash:  Finance indicates the highest reserves of hard currency recorded by Iraq in its history

The Ministry of Finance announced today, Tuesday, that the highest foreign currency reserves in Iraq amounted to $82 billion in 2014.

The ministry said in its official statistics, which was seen by Shafak News Agency, that “the reserves of the Central Bank of Iraq witnessed their highest rise in July 2014, reaching 82 billion dollars,” noting that “these reserves later decreased to reach 44 billion dollars in 2017.”

She added, “The reserves fluctuated between 2020 and 2021 after the drop in oil prices and the rise in the dollar exchange rate in Iraq, as these reserves ranged between 45 billion and 61 billion dollars, noting that these reserves recorded 60 billion dollars in April of the year 2021.”   link

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