Biti pushed for the idea in order to promote transparency in the mining and marketing of diamonds following the recent mishandling of the US147 million diamond proceeds by the government. Biti also received cabinet support on the audit of diamond activity at Chiadzwa Diamond Field in Marange.
He told Radio VOP on Wednesday: “I have been tasked by Cabinet to …see how diamond is accounted for from the time mining takes place and to the time that it is exported.”
Biti denied he had refused to release diamond proceeds to civil servants as alleged by the state owned media and Mines Minister Obert Mpofu.
“An illusion was created that the Minister of Finance has been given US $174 223 814.88 from diamond proceeds. That illusion was first announced by the President (Robert Mugabe) in Addis Ababa on the 27th of January 2011,” Biti said to Radio VOP.
He said a total of US$48 458 996.78 was paid directly to the Ministry of Finance as of 31st of December 2010. However, there were amounts that were paid directly to the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (ZIMRA) amounting to US$64 678 094.93 as of end of December 2010. I must mention here that the amounts that were paid directly to ZIMRA were paid during the entire course of last year, that is, from January to December 2010. They were not once off payments.”
Amounts that are paid directly to ZIMRA are statutory payments that include royalties, corporate tax, VAT and with-holding tax. All companies in Zimbabwe are obliged by law to make statutory payments to ZIMRA.
“Once ZIMRA receives Statutory Payment and hands them over to treasury, we then allocate them to various demands such as wages, Government grants, bills and debts,” said Biti.
“It is therefore dishonest…to include and mix statutory payments with diamond revenues. Reflecting statutory payment as diamond revenue is a misnomer and no-one in his/her rightful mind can do that.”
Biti said he wrote three letters to the Ministry of Mines and the Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation (ZMDC) demanding to know where the US$ 174 m was. Only at that stage did they start making additional payments to treasury,” said Biti. This was done between 7 February and 16 February 2011.