The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) says financial institutions should prioritise foreign currency allocation to productive sectors of the economy as a key response to the coronavirus pandemic.
In a strategic use of the monetary policy to cushion the blow of the current lockdown on critical manufacturers and other important players, the central bank – through the Exchange Control Circular 5 of 2020 – has directed banks and bureaux de change to prioritise forex to the productive sectors and suppliers of “goods and services not readily available in Zimbabwe”.
With the Covid-19 pandemic seriously affecting the country’s external trade and the resultant lockdown affecting local companies’ capacity to produce, Government intervention is critical in ensuring that the country is able to manage foreign reserves to adequately finance essential imports of raw materials, food, energy, medicines and other basic materials in the short-to-medium term.
In terms of the new priority list, Category 1 firms should be allocated 70 percent of all forex payments, while Category 2 will get 30 percent. Said RBZ director of Exchange Control Farai Masendu:
“Consistent with Exchange Control Circular 3 of 2020, Authorised Dealers and Bureaux de Change are advised that the. . . priority list for foreign currency payments shall apply with immediate effect to ensure that foreign currency resources are substantially channelled to the productive sectors of the economy in light of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Compliance with this requirement is critical to ensure that the economy responds positively to the enhancing of production in the country.”
According to Exchange Control Circular 5 of 2020, forex payments that will fall under Category 1 include: importation of raw materials, machinery and spare parts for local industry; imports of food stuffs, fuel, health and agro-chemicals not available in Zimbabwe; packaging materials, mining consumables, goods and services not locally available for tourism operators, medical fees and loan repayments, as well as payments for services not available in the country.
Other Category 1 items are remittance of pension income for non-resident Zimbabweans; remittance of rental income for properties financed from offshore, commercial vehicles, as well as university and college fees.
The RBZ initially set a prioritisation list for firms and/or entities that will be able to access foreign currency at the inter-bank foreign exchange market last February in a Monetary Policy Statement (MPS).
It was this particular MPS that announced the introduction of an interbank foreign exchange market. The lockdown has created serious value chains disruptions resulting in some cases serious shortages of basic food items and other essential commodities in shops countrywide.
Zimbabwe also relies more on some imported finished and semi-finished products required by local industries and the lockdown in other jurisdiction, have resulted in many informal traders failing to travel to foreign markets to secure the products. Other countries the world over have announced some huge bailouts to save their industries, especially the small scale sector from collapsing as they their incomes were eroded as a result of the lockdown.
Tesla boss Elon Musk wiped $14bn (£11bn) off the carmaker’s value after tweeting its share price was too high.
It also knocked $3bn off Mr Musk’s own stake in Tesla as investors promptly bailed out of the company.
“Tesla stock price too high imo,” he said in one of several tweets that included a vow to sell his possessions.
In other tweets, he said his girlfriend was mad at him, while another simply read: “Rage, rage against the dying of the light of consciousness.”
In 2018, a tweet about Tesla’s future on the New York stock market led to regulators fining the company $20m and Mr Musk agreeing to have all further posts on the platform pre-screened by lawyers.
On Friday, the Wall Street Journal reported it had asked the billionaire if he was joking about the share price tweet and whether it had been vetted, receiving the reply “No”.
Tesla’s share price has surged this year, putting the electric carmaker’s value at close to $100bn, a mark that would trigger a bonus payment of hundreds of millions of dollars to the entrepreneur.
“We view these Musk comments as tongue in cheek and it’s Elon being Elon. It’s certainly a headache for investors for him to venture into this area as his tweeting remains a hot button issue and [Wall] Street clearly is frustrated,” Wedbush Securities analyst Daniel Ives told Reuters news agency.
In 2018, Mr Musk tweeted that he may have secured funding to possibly remove Tesla from the stock market and take it private, which again led to swings in the share price. The Securities and Exchange Commission judged it a market-moving comment, fined him and forced Tesla to put in place checks to ensure it did not happen again.
But last month, a federal judge said Tesla and Musk must face a lawsuit by shareholders over the going-private tweet, including a claim that Mr Musk intended to defraud them.
Earlier this week he tweeted to his 33.4 million followers some strong criticism of US stay-at-home restrictions because of the coronavirus pandemic. Last year he found himself in court after tweeting that a British diver was a “pedo guy”.
Mr Musk said the promise to sell his possessions included his house, formerly owned by actor and producer Gene Wilder, and bought in 2013.
“One stipulation on sale,” he tweeted, “I own Gene Wilder’s old house. It cannot be torn down or lose any of its soul.”
Here’s a glimpse of the lives of some students during the enhanced community quarantine.
1) A sixth grader has been with his grandmother since birth. Now, he has an online homework. His Lola knows nothing about the latest tech, has no phone, and does not have enough money to buy one for her grandchild. All computer shops are closed. Lola had to ask her neighbors for help.
2) A fourth year college student bites her fingernails nervously, as she worries about how she can survive the quarantine without her part-time job. She was locked up in the city, and officials cannot let students like her get out easily. Now, two notifications have popped up—one a notice from her landlady reminding her of the rent, and the other an online quiz to be taken until midnight. Days ago, her parents told her they were going to sell a carabao to pay a fraction of her tuition, rent, and other expenses. The understanding child that she is, she convinced them not to do so. She promised to find other online jobs.
Apparently, online classes still continue in some universities. There is no point in blaming students because they do not have a laptop or other gadgets to cope with the piling requirements. Just recently, the United Nations found out that 826 million students do not have computers and 706 million have no internet connection, at a time when online learning is the most feasible solution for the academe.
To have flunking literacy rates and to impose online learning modalities at the same time is a folly. It is truly disheartening to see elementary pupils struggle to find their way into online classes, when issues about insufficient books and classrooms still fester in the background.
All these issues about the state of the country’s education sector have simply piled up and worsened. When everything blows up, the teachers will be affected, but the students will suffer the most.
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Industry participants attribute this to two factors — central bank monetary policy as well as an upcoming event known as bitcoin halving.
Major central banks around the world have unveiled huge stimulus packages to cushion the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic. They have also signaled their willingness to do more. This has been a factor behind the recent rise in stock markets in past few days, and has filtered through to bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.
“My sense is that overall markets are not reflecting reality on the ground though, but this is also the result of the Fed in the U.S. being extremely clear that they will do anything to make sure there is economic stability,” Vijay Ayyar, head of business development at cryptocurrency exchange Luno, toldCNBC. He was referring to the U.S. central bank that pledged to keep its benchmark interest rate near zero until the economy recovers.
“We could be seeing a lot of money flowing into equities and crypto as well, as a result of the new money printing.”
The bitcoin world works with so-called “miners” with high-powered computers competing to solve complex math problems to validate bitcoin transactions. Whoever wins that race gets rewarded in bitcoin.
Currently, miners are rewarded 12.5 per block mined. The rewards are halved every few years to keep a lid on inflation. By May 2020, the reward per miner will be cut in half again, to 6.25 new bitcoin.
This essentially reduces the supply of bitcoin coming onto the market. Halving is an event that happens every four years. Previous halving events have preceded big price increases in bitcoin.
“While part of this rebound may be explained by a renewed ‘risk-on’ attitude of global investors, it is also clear that bulls have been triggered by the upcoming halving event and the anticipated appreciation in value in the wake of it,” said Matthew Dibb, co-founder of Stack, a bitcoin index fund provider.
“For those buying into bitcoin now, many see this as an opportunity to buy BTC at bargain basement rates before a price pop post halving.”
We asked four health experts about what Australia should be doing next.
Making things more sustainable
Think about these coronavirus restrictions being fine-tuned rather than lifted, advises infectious disease epidemiologist Kathryn Snow of the University of Melbourne.
“Easing and relaxing and lifting [restrictions] makes it sound like we’re on our way back to normal, and I don’t think we are,” Dr Snow says.
Easing restrictions is going to be a gradual process, and there are overseas lessons to consider.
“The lesson that we’ve learned from Singapore, for example, is that the risk of a second wave is very, very real,” Dr Snow says.
Another sobering lesson from the US, UK and Italy is that, once the virus gets out of control, even if you put in very strong restrictions, if they’re put in place too late they don’t work the same way.
Australia is lucky that the virus hasn’t gotten into very many nursing homes, we haven’t had huge prison-based outbreaks, and it hasn’t impacted our more vulnerable regional towns, Dr Snow says.
But that doesn’t mean these sort of events couldn’t occur in the future.
Dr Snow says the basics we keep being reminded about are going to be important all year, no matter what happens.
“That’s going to be washing our hands regularly, minimising our physical contact with other people,” she says.
“And if we are feeling even the slightest bit ill … it’s going to be really, really important that we’re not going to work and we’re not going to social events.”
Learning from international experience
“I think what we are doing is reasonable,” says Sanjaya Senanayake, an infectious diseases specialist at the Australian National University Medical School.
“The issue is that there is no right or wrong way to do this.
But we do have the advantage of learning from what’s happening elsewhere in the world.
Lifting restrictions slowly and keeping a close eye on the effects by testing extensively is the way forward, Dr Senanayake says.
The last restriction we should expect to see lifted is our international borders, and he reckons that’s still a long way off.
“I think given the seriousness of this outbreak, it will be a while before a lot of social distancing measures are lifted. I, for instance, can’t see people shaking hands for the rest of this year.”
As for whether we have a chance of eradicating the virus?
But he says the likelihood is that it will stick around.
“But that doesn’t mean that we continue doing what we’re doing. Even if we lift the restrictions, we look hard for infections and any surge, we clamp down on any clusters and stop those people infecting other people.”
‘We are prepared’
There are two important issues we need to consider when deciding to ease coronavirus restrictions, says respiratory physician Greg Fox of the Woolcock Institute of Medical Research.
The first is: are we aiming to eradicate or suppress the virus so that we can ensure it doesn’t overwhelm the health system?
The second is whether the health system is ready to cope with any possible surges in the future.
“Australia’s been very fortunate to have bought time to be able to prepare for this pandemic, because of the rapid measures that were taken,” says Dr Fox, who also works at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital.
That has allowed health systems around the country to prepare additional intensive care beds, to be able to do large-scale testing, and implement effective telehealth programs for community monitoring of people with mild symptoms.
“Based on those two criteria, I think that we are prepared,” he says.
But Dr Fox cautions, we don’t yet know what is going to be the impact of easing some of the restrictions that have been in place, because we don’t know exactly which part of our response has been effective.
Singapore is a good example of how it’s possible in any society — even if measures are put in place — for there to be pockets of transmission which can rapidly get out of control, he says.
“What that means is that 99.9 per cent of the Australian population is still susceptible to getting the infection,” Dr Fox says.
“And so really, until either a vaccine is developed or until there’s some more effective drug treatment, we’re going to have to protect those 99.9 per cent of people from becoming infected if we want to avoid the worst outcomes.”
The idea of being able to see friends and family once again, and spend more time outside is welcome news for our mental and emotional health, says Susan Rossell, professor of neuropsychology at Swinburne University.
“[Lifting restrictions] is definitely a good thing for people’s mental health. It’s been a very stressful few months,” Professor Rossell says.
But she’s urging people to take some caution when easing back into their social lives — not expecting too much too soon.
“There are going to be some very long-term ramifications and this is not going to go away in the next few months,” Professor Rossell says.
“People have to really stay in the moment … and not get so excited as to plan big birthday parties or overseas trips, because that’s not something that’s going to happen straight away.”
Making sense of the pandemic and its impact on currencies
Now, the whole world is living in a new reality that was created due to the coronavirus pandemic. Safety and health of each person in our planet is of primary importance today. However, the virus outbreak turned out to be an unexpectedly prolonged process even in developed countries.
Thus, we have all reasons to claim that people will have to live under the current conditions for a long period of time. Economic and financial consequences largely depend on the pandemic period and the restrictive measures duration.
Nowadays, nobody cannot think of a world without the single currency as it was in the 90s. We cannot even imagine what dynamic the Italian lira and the Spanish peseta would have shown in March. Moreover, unlike the US dollar, these currencies were not often used as reserve ones.
Nevertheless, they are no longer in circulation and we will analyze only real trading instruments.
The most alarming situation is in the US, where Donald Trump declared a major emergency in all 50 states. If the situation deteriorates, the US economy will stagnate.
The banking segment is expected to be damaged first after the real sector. The share of bad loans is likely to snowball. It is obvious that millions of the US citizens and thousands of companies will not be able to pay off loans during the total lockdown.
Following the banking system’s collapse, investment funds will be the next sector to suffer from the virus. These funds withdraw large sums of money from federal and social projects. In this case, the US Fed will be forced to print both money and government debt obligations.
China, in its turn, will continue purchasing Treasury bonds making it incredibly hard for the US president’s administration to meet its financial obligations.
Even under such terrible conditions, the US dollar may keep its current position. The fact is that the US economic slowdown or even its stagnation will reduce consumption of already cheap energy resources. This, in turn, may eliminate the speculative component in oil quotes.
Usually, when oil prices drop, the US currency gains ground. During the pandemic peak in the US, oil priced at even $10-12 a barrel would not boost the dollar. However, this level could be enough to prevent it from falling.
Besides, the US dollar is popular due to its relative stability during and may be even after the pandemic. The world needs a permanent symbol of stability such as the US dollar and may be the euro. Oil cannot be used for that purpose. Germany is the main supporter of the single currency. It once again proved that it is Germany that defines the euro’s value.
Currencies of developing countries may face rather gloomy future. The fact is that investors are likely to buy stable currencies, including the US dollar and the euro, or safe-haven assets such as gold and some currencies, including the Swiss franc and the Japanese yen. As a result, low oil prices and the coronavirus outbreak are of minor importance in this issue.
Despite the fact that the currency market is rather calm, the trade during the pandemic is still exciting. There are not a lot of swings. However, the news trading is becoming more and more popular and allows market participants to gain money even within one day.
News about coronavirus have the following influence on quotes. If a number of new virus cases advances, there is greater demand for safe-haven assets and currencies. If a number of infected people reduces, investors switch to currencies of emerging markets.
In case of the US dollar, the situation is a bit different. If there is a jump in a number of infected people, the greenback drops by 1-2%. However, it usually quickly recoups its loses.
YOUNGSTOWN — Mr. William Robert Kirk, 84, fondly called Robert or Kirk by family and friends, transitioned from this earthly life Saturday, April 18, 2020, at his home in Youngstown.
The oldest of three sons, he was born to Council Sr. and Viola Ervin Kirk, June 28, 1935, in Coy, Ala.
Robert accepted Christ at an early age and joined St. Emanuel Baptist Church in Coy, where he attended until he relocated. After relocating to Youngstown, he joined The Cathedral of Hope Church, formerly known as The Church of Hope, under the leadership of his cousins, Pastor Robert Lockett and the Rev. Willa Ervin Lockett. He was a trustee, sang in the Mass choir, senior choir and male chorus, in addition to driving the church bus. He later joined Union Baptist Church under the leadership of Pastor Michael Harrison, where he remained faithful until death, serving as a deacon and singing in the male chorus.
Robert graduated from Camden Academy High School in Camden, Ala., in 1956. He was very active in sports. He played basketball, football and ran track. He received a full scholarship to Knoxville College in Tennessee. After graduating from high school, he and his brother, Council Jr., spent the summer working in Kingston, N.Y. Robert later moved to Youngstown, where he was drafted and served in the Army and the National Guard.
Robert was united in marriage to Delores Smith and to this union three children were born, Pamela, Yolanda and Eric Robert.
Robert later united in marriage to Joyce Crenshaw and to this union two daughters were born, Tracey and Tanisha.
After 50-plus years of service, he retired from Ace Lumber Company, Youngstown.
Robert was a very giving, fun loving man to family and friends. Always attending family functions, including weddings, family reunions or just meeting up at a family member’s home to check on them, Robert always had a smile planted on his face and sometimes a mischievous look as if he was about to tell a joke.
He leaves to cherish his memory, his children, Pamela Kirk Snowden, Yolanda Kirk and Eric Robert Kirk, all of Atlanta, Ga., and Tanisha Kirk of Youngstown; his brothers, Council Kirk Jr. of Columbus and John (Bernice ) Kirk of Cincinnati; his daughter-in-law, Michelle Kirk; his grandchildren, Bernard III, Tierra, Toyia, Kelvin, Kirk, Aniya, Tahlia, John III and Mason; special cousins, Minnie Erkard, Bonnie Little and Roosevelt Thompson; and a host of other relatives and friends.
He was preceded in death by his parents, Council Sr. and Viola Kirk; his wife, Joyce C. Kirk; and his daughter, Tracey Driskell.
A homegoing celebration in honor of Robert will be held 10 a.m. Friday, May 1, 2020, at Union Baptist Church, Youngstown.
Ministry of comfort and transitional care entrusted to J.E. Washington Funeral Services Inc.
“The fact is, that front door is closed and I don’t know when it’s going to open back up again,” said Brian McDermott, owner of the Foyle Hotel and Bistro in Moville, County Donegal.
This sentiment rings true for many hospitality businesses on both sides of the border.
Yet, depending on which side of the border your business was placed, your trade either stopped overnight or was waiting to come to a screeching halt.
“Moville is a destination for people in Northern Ireland to escape and all of that has all stopped,” said Mr McDermott.
When the Republic of Ireland’s lockdown restrictions were implemented, Mr McDermott closed his doors.
But, he said, his customers from Northern Ireland were confused. They were not in lockdown, so why were their bookings cancelled?
“We’re watching both sides of the border in terms of a potential return because we take our governance from the Republic of Ireland, but our customer base comes from Northern Ireland,” said Mr McDermott.
Business on the border
Like Mr McDermott, the hospitality industry is keeping a keen eye on developments in the south.
A recent Irish Times report said that the Republic’s National Public Health Emergency Team is discussing an early stage plan that would see cafes and restaurants reopen by the middle of the summer and people being allowed to travel within Ireland for holidays by late summer.
On Thursday, two major business groups wrote to the governments in Dublin and Belfast to urge co-ordination in the recovery from coronavirus.
The CBI and its Irish equivalent, Ibec, say an economic reboot will need “the highest level of co-operation, co-ordination and joined-up thinking”.
Around the border areas in Northern Ireland, the hospitality sector relies quite heavily on cross-border trade.
“It’s often said if you go into Derry/Londonderry, 40% of the number plates will be from Letterkenny,” said Colin Neill, chief executive of Hospitality Ulster.
“That’s a sign of how much movement there is back and forward, wining, dining and socialising.”
“When the social distancing restrictions came into force down south, there was a bit of confusion”, he said.
“We even saw a very slight rise in consumers coming across north because of the different elements and that can cause confusion,” said Mr Neill.
“If we go forward and with different social distancing rules in the Republic of Ireland and the north of Ireland, there could be issues and confusion, particularly for customers if the distance is different and the policies are different.”
Mr Neill said it is really important that both sides of the border address the pandemic with “a joint approach as much as possible”, with similar guidelines so that “there’s a clear and concise message”.
“For the importance of safety for our staff and customers, we have to reopen at the right time,” he said.
Dermot Doherty, owner of the Scullery Cafe in Londonderry, agrees with Mr Neill.
As he watched news rolling in about other countries in lockdown, he knew something was coming.
“We were still really busy, but we closed before the lockdown came in here. It just didn’t feel right,” he said.
Mr Doherty has 18 staff members across three locations. Nine of those, including himself, are living in Donegal.
“I think there has to be a joined-up plan of opening for both the north and the south.
“You have to be on the same page and the same ideas. There’s no point in the south opening, people would just go over the border.”
Business beyond the lockdown
Mr McDermott spent €2m (£1.7m) renovating his premises on Main Street in Moville when he was forced to close.
“It is strange for me personally, it’s strange for the business,” he said.
“We’ve laid off 25 staff on a short-term basis and more importantly your income has stopped, but your costs have continued in terms of utilities and associated costs with just keeping the business ticking over.”
He added: “I estimate it’s going to take us in and around €100,000 (£87,477) to return to working capital capacity because we’re just two years gone, we weren’t able to build up our collateral.”
As Mr McDermott sees it, “you’d be the bravest business globally if you were to write a business plan for a hospitality business right now”.