Presenting his 2011-2012 budget review, Biti said it was worrying that while Zimbabwe exported 716 958 diamond carats to outside markets, only US$103, 9 million was realised by government from the resource.
He said this was happening at a time when diamond prices continued to firm on the international front, with carat prices hitting lows of US$1, 300 per carat and highs of US$5000 per carat.
“Mr. Speaker Sir, it is worrying to note that there is no connection whatsoever between diamond exports made by Zimbabwe and the revenues realised thereof.
“It is worth noting that out of 716 958, 90 diamond carats exported from Zimbabwe in the period under review, only US$103, 9 million was accounted for through forms submitted through CD1 forms at the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe,” said Biti.
“18% of the diamonds mined from Marange diamond fields are of gem quality. 23% of diamonds mined from the Murowa diamond fields are industrial diamonds. We need to put in place proper mechanisms to monitor the movement of the diamonds from the point of mining, marketing, export and trade.
“What this means is that there is need for measures to be put in place to ensure there are no leakages in the whole process, which therefore calls for the involvement of ZIMRA in all this,” said Biti.
The finance minister revealed that mineral prices were firming worldwide, adding there was need for Zimbabwe to benefit financially from the development.
“We have a situation where gold prices and other mineral prices firmed recently. This means that we have to take advantage of the firming so that we cab deal with other issues at home,” said Biti.
He called on the inclusive government to speed up its discussion with Mutumwa Mawere, the previous owner of Shabanie Mashaba Mines (SMM) over the handover of the mining concern back to Mawere.
“While mining is doing relatively well, it is disappointing to note that asbestos is not doing that well. It is this light that I call upon government to move with speed and conclude its discussions over the re-opening of Shabanie-Mashaba-Mines.
A speedy resolution of the Government-SMM issues will help re-open the mine and give the people of Zvishavane jobs again as this town is slowly becoming a ghost town,” Biti said.
According to Biti, Zimbabwe needs to come up with a process of clearing international debt amounting to over US$7 billion.
He said failure to clear the debts could see Zimbabwe failing to cash in on funds set aside by the international funding agencies such as the World Bank and the African Development Bank (AfDB) for Africa.
“The World Bank has set aside US$75billion to spend in Africa while the African Development Bank (AfDB) has set aside US$30 billion also for Africa.
“If we do not deal with the debt that continues to hang over Zimbabwe, we might miss out on these funds whose intentions are to help boost programmes in African countries. It is important that policies to clear the debt are developed as a matter of urgency,” Biti said.
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