Diamond Revenue Funding Mugabe’s Parallel Government – Biti

Biti told journalists in Harare that diamond revenue has been under-performing since January 2012 raising fears there could be a parallel government in place.

Presenting his state of the economy report for March 2012 on Thursday, Biti said revenue collection amounted to US$287.9 million against a target of US$320.2 million, whose shortfall emanated from the under-performance of diamond revenue.

“There are challenges of opaqueness. As Ministry of Finance, we fear that there might be a parallel government in respect of where the revenue is going and not coming to Treasury. This economy needs every resource it can get including diamond revenue.

Diamond revenue has been under-performing since January 2012, with only US$30.4 million received by treasury for the period January to March 2012. This is against a target of US$ 122.5 million,” he said.

Biti slammed Anjin; a Chinese firm in a joint venture with President Mugabe’s officials, for not remitting any revenue yet it is the biggest mining company in Marange.

“There are four major mining companies in Marange. One of these companies, Anjin, has not remitted a single cent to Treasury. The Constitution of Zimbabwe is very clear: all fees, taxes and other sources of revenue in Zimbabwe shall be paid into and form one Consolidated Revenue Fund (CRF), so the constitution is clearly being breached because not every cent is being accounted to the CRF. We bear the brunt because everyone looks at the Ministry of Finance, yet people do not look at where the money is coming from,” he said.

Biti, who is the secretary general of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s faction of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), said his party maintains that, there needs to be transparency in diamond revenue as this assist in the turnaround of country’s economy.

He added that the economy was likely to suffer a decline in value due to the failure of Treasury to realise budget revenue targets, reduced demand for export commodities which affects the overall Gross Domestic Product (GDP), the rising imported inflation against the background of high oil and global food prices and the general decline in maize production.

The minister said there was a disaster in the energy sector with unresolved challenges at Hwange thermal power station where the generating units have outlived their lifespan by 21 years.

“The plants should have been replaced and new generation plants put in place in 1990 but nothing was done. There is need to put up two new generators in Kariba South to increase the generation capacity,” he said.

On inflation, Biti said for the month of March, there was a downward reduction of inflation and the month-on-month inflation slowed down with housing and education continuing to be major inflation drivers.

He, however, said the wage bill continues to gobble 70% of the total revenue and deprives government an opportunity to attend to other obligations like health, education and recurrent expenditure.