Last week, we wrote an article aimed at helping civil servants looking to choose a bank to open an FCA account with.
The article had account opening, debit card issuance and service fees for over 10 banks but it seems its use has been diminished since the government has intervened and announced that civil servants will be able to open these accounts at a reduced cost.
Presidential Spokesperson George Charamba is reported to have said the following regarding the cost of opening these bank accounts;
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Some civil servants are asking, “how do we open Foreign Currency Accounts, how do we do this inexpensively, by way of the cost of opening an FCA and also by way of doing so”. His Excellency the President gave a directive to the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development and the Reserve Bank to say the execution or implementation of this facility of US$75 and US$30 should not have the unintended effect of demeaning the welfare threshold of civil servants.
I also happen to know that the Governor last week met with the bankers, the Governor met with retailers on the instruction of the Finance Minister who was responding to a directive from the President.
The whole idea is to make sure that opening an FCA is at the least cost, the transaction is also at least costs and that it brings greater value and convenience to the civil servants.
A meaningless statement
The statement by the President’s spokesperson is confusing for a number of reasons;
- It’s not clear if the directive issued has already been adopted by banks;
- He says opening FCA accounts is going to be “at the least cost” but there are no specifics in regards to what the thresholds actually are and whether all banks will be adopting this;
The fact that there isn’t much in the way of transparency means this declaration doesn’t protect civil servants at all.
A civil servant going to open an FCA account will just be told that whatever opening fee they are quoted is actually “the least cost” and because they don’t have a figure to reference they really can’t argue with the bank.