Friday, September 07, 2012

(NEWZIMBABWE) Diamonds: treasury gets 9pc of US$456m

Diamonds: treasury gets 9pc of US$456m
06/09/2012 00:00:00
by Garikai Chaunza

ZIMBABWE sold diamonds worth about US$456 million by August this year but Treasury only received US$41 million from the proceeds, Finance Minister Tendai Biti has said.

“We are disappointed to note that diamond revenue continues not to reach the treasury. If we look at diamond sales as of the end of August, we had sold Diamonds worth US$456 million,” Biti told Thursday after presenting his monthly economic review statement for last month.

“Mbada Diamond Company sold gems worth at least US$200 million and Anjin Investments about US$125 million but nothing was remitted to the Treasury.”

Four companies, all of them joint ventures between the state-owned Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation (ZMDC) and private investors, are operating at the Chiadzwa diamond fields in the eastern Manicaland province.

However, Biti said the country was not benefiting from what officials claim to be one of the world’s richest diamond finds in recent years and called on his Mines counterpart to ensure transparency in the exploitation of the gems.

“So we are pleading with the Mines and Mining Development Minister, Obert Mpofu, to give us the diamond money so that we can be able to pay our struggling government workers,” he said.

“We are also saying Mpofu give us the diamond money so that we give some of it to the Energy and Power Development Ministry for electricity. If we get that money we will also be able to pay school fees for the country’s vulnerable children.”

Biti has since cut his 2012 national budget from US$4 billion to about US$3,4 billion blaming poor revenue inflows from diamond mining where he had expected about US$600 million this year alone.

The Chiadzwa diamonds remain a source of constant friction in the coalition government with Biti and his MDC-T party accusing Zanu PF of deliberately diverting the revenues from Treasury.

However, some of the companies operating in the area said Biti overstated the potential contribution of diamond sales when he put together his 2012 national budget and was now trying to blame them for his mistake.

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