Thousands of nurses and medical doctors across the country are struggling to open Foreign Currency Accounts (FCAs), after the government indicated that it will only deposit foreign currency salaries into such bank accounts. Doctors and nurses will this month be paid in foreign currency, after the government managed to secure funding.
Senior nurses have been promised monthly salaries of US$60, while junior nurses and those in training will receive between US$30 and US$40. Medical doctors will be paid monthly salaries of US$400.
The government has since written to nurses and doctors ordering them to open FCAs. They have also written to banks asking them to allow health
professional to open FCAs without the basic requirements. But banks are turning away the nurses and the doctors, as they do not have the mandatory US$200 required to open an FCA account, despite waiver letters written by the Ministry of Health and Child Welfare.
“The Ministry of Health and Child Welfare has committed itself to implementing a Harmonised Retention Scheme for all health workers. As such, it is a prerequisite for all health workers to open a Foreign Currency
The Ministry requests the banking sector, with the support of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) if required, to facilitate the opening of US$ FC accounts for health staff, recognising that many will be paid at levels below the current minimum required to open an FCA account (Harmonsied Retention Scheme Circular dated 3 December).
“Please kindly assist the bearer to open a foreign currency account. He/She
will be receiving US$30 per month,” reads the ministry letter dated December 31 2008.
Doctors and nurses who spoke to RadioVOP said they could not open FCA accounts as the US$200 required for opening the FCA accounts was
quite high. “We have been turned away by banks, who have ignored the waiver letters from the ministry and want us to pay the US$200 for opening the accounts and we do not have that kind of money,” said one nurse who spoke on condition anonymity.
A senior bank manager with NMB in Bulawayo said they have not received any orders from the Central Bank head to waiver FCAs requirements for health workers.