Thursday, November 10, 2011
Saturday, 05 November 2011 23:45
By Kuda Bwititi
SEVERAL giant mining companies, among them Zimplats, Mimosa and Unki, have prejudiced the State of over US$400 million in unpaid taxes in recent months.The companies are also accused of continuously shortchanging the Government by banking their profits in offshore accounts.
Mines and Mining Development Minister Cde Obert Mpofu and his Finance counterpart Mr Tendai Biti told a Parliamentary Pre-Budget Seminar in Victoria Falls last week that the firms continuously compromised revenue inflows, agreeing that the entire mining regime had to be overhauled to stop the rot.
Cde Mpofu said an audit carried out by international auditing firm, Stuart & Lloyds, recently revealed the companies owed Government in excess of US$400 million.
He said his ministry was signing export receipts of US$500 million per month, but remittances fell way below that figure.
Mr Biti weighed in, saying the mining sector was remitting only US$150 million despite generating US$2,3 billion.
Minister Mpofu said: “These companies should pay up what they owe and stop shortchanging the Government.
“We should tackle this issue collectively and ensure these companies pay their dues.’’
He said the firms banked funds in offshore accounts, adding that their budgets were bigger than that of the country.
He added that while detractors always pointed fingers at diamond mining companies in Marange, the fact was that Zimplats and Unki Mine were among Government’s chief debtors.
Diamond mining in Marange has generated US$174 million in revenue since the beginning of this year.
“These big mining companies are depriving the State of due revenues.
“There is a problem across the mining sector, yet people just want to pinpoint Marange Diamonds. At least we are getting something substantive from Marange unlike from companies such as Zimplats and Unki which are continuously shortchanging us.”
Mr Biti concurred with his counterpart, saying major mining firms should be accountable.
“Fifty percent of our exports, which is about US$2,3 billion, is coming from mining,” he said.
“The problem, however, is that only US$150 million is contributed to the fiscus. There is talk of corruption at Chiadzwa, but at least Treasury received US$174 million from there.
“Where are the Zimplats and the Unkis of this world?”
On diamond pilferage, Minister Mpofu said Zimbabwe was losing gems worth millions of dollars to neighbouring countries.
Presenting the Micro-Economic Framework for the 2012 National Budget on Thursday, Mr Biti said he was contemplating expanding the National Budget from the initial figure of US$3,4 billion to include anticipated high returns from diamond sales.
He said this follows the Kimberley Process plenary in the Democratic Republic of Congo which gave Zimbabwe the green light to export diamonds in Marange.
“Our budget is worth US$3,4 billion. We have based this on the anticipated revenue.
“We had not factored in the diamond revenue that will increase following the decision by the KP.
“I will engage with the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development because I am seriously considering increasing the Budget to factor in the KP decision.”
He added that the budget would be anchored on the Medium-Term Plan which was launched by the Ministry of Economic Planning and Investment Promotion in July this year.
He said focus would also be on financing national elections scheduled for next year and promoting the agricultural sector, among other key areas.