One of the country’s leading financial services institutions, Stanbic Bank Zimbabwe, has contributed $273.2 million to finance the tobacco industry this year.
Stanbic Bank’s Head of Corporate and Investment Banking, Rhett Groves, says that the bank recognises that agriculture and the golden leaf in particular, is one of the country’s leading foreign currency and revenue generators hence the committed to playing its part in contributing to the economic growth by supporting this sector.
Since the beginning of the year, various tobacco merchants have benefitted from the Standard Bank Group subsidiary’s funding enabling facility which has so far made $245 million available to tobacco merchants alone.
“Our pay off line is moving forward and we have taken this in the agricultural context to play a pivotal role in moving not only agriculture but the economy forward and we have done this by making resources available to trigger production and exports,” said Rhett.
Stanbic Bank Zimbabwe is a wholly owned subsidiary of Standard Bank Investment Corporation (SCBIC) which in turn is owned by Standard bank Africa and is listed on the Johannesburg Securities Exchange.
Groves said Stanbic bank is committed to making a real difference to financial services in Zimbabwe by providing banking services and products that make a difference in the country as a whole. He also explained that besides tobacco merchants, farmers of the golden leaf have also benefitted from the bank’s Agribusiness services.
“In addition to the $245m availed to tobacco merchants we also directly finance tobacco farmers through our Agribusiness portfolio and in this financial year we have invested $28.4m in that regard.”
The Standard Bank subsidiary’s contribution to the tobacco sector stands at a total of $273.2m.
Zimbabwe’s 2017 flue-cured tobacco selling season opened in May with an auction-market starting price of US$4.60 per kg and the lowest price at US$0.20 per kg from three auction floors, Tobacco Sales Floor, Premier Tobacco Auction Floors and Boka Tobacco Floors.
In 2015 and 2016, the average price paid to Zimbabwe’s flue-cured tobacco growers was about $2.93 per kg.
By December last year some 66,554 ha of land had been put under tobacco with this season’s plantings increasing by about 17.5 percent compared to the 2016 season
Among the Bank’s contribution to national development is the recent $120 million debt package for the Zimbabwe Power Company, for the rehabilitation of existing infrastructure at two of the State owned utility’s power stations.
The funding, done through Stanbic Bank’s parent company, Standard Bank Group, is for the reconditioning of the facilities at ZPC’s Kariba South Hydro Power Station as well as Hwange Thermal Power Station.