Finance Minister orders diamond audit

FINANCE Minister Tendai Biti says he has ordered an audit of diamond sale revenues. He said figures on his desk indicated Treasury had so far got US$62,1 million while the Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation and the Minerals Marketing Corporation of Zimbabwe indicated US$174,2 million. In a ministerial statement on the 2011 Budget performance in the

Biti says he has ordered an audit of diamond sale revenues.

He said figures on his desk indicated Treasury had so far got US$62,1 million while the Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation and the Minerals Marketing Corporation of Zimbabwe indicated US$174,2 million.

In a ministerial statement on the 2011 Budget performance in the House of Assembly yesterday, Minister Biti said ZMDC said US$125,8 million was realised in January this year and he was yet to get the money.

“We have received a schedule through the Chief Secretary in the President’s Office, Dr Misheck Sibanda that came from ZMDC showing that we have received US$174 million, and that shows a discrepancy from our figures.

“As a result of these discrepancies, I have since instructed the AccountantGeneral and the CommissionerGeneral of the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority to verify figures of the diamond proceeds received so far.

“In addition, I have instructed the Comptroller and AuditorGeneral to audit the books of the relevant parastatals involved in the sale of diamonds,” said Minister Biti.

Mines and Mining Development Minister Obert Mpofu has said US$174 million has been realised from diamond sales this year.

It is understood that some of this money will soon be made available to Treasury once it has been properly cleared.

Thereafter, Minister Biti is expected to use the money to adjust civil servants’ salaries as has already been indicated by President Mugabe.

Yesterday, Minister Biti said: “I hope officials are not speculating with this money. From a cash management basis, it therefore becomes extremely difficult to plan for such resources when one has no control over the timing of both the sale and the remittances.”

Commenting on the 2011 budget performance, Minister Biti said revenue inflows for January stood at US$168m, representing a US$34 million deficit.

He said a number of programmes would have to be carried forward until revenue improved.

“We are back at ‘kukiyakiya’ where money is just going to salaries and of the US$168 million revenue inflow for January, the monthly wage of US$117,6 million leaves very little room for other Government operational requirements as well as projects. It means certain areas will have to suffer,” he said.

He said civil servants’ salary bill of US$77 million plus pensions, medical aid and other contributions added up to US$117 million in January.

The minister said he had so far received an unbudgeted financing request amounting to US$97 million. This is from Air Zimbabwe (US$2,5 million), constitutionmaking (US$10 million,) arrears for the 2010 cadetship programme (US$13 million), winter wheat (US$10 million), arrears to service providers (US$40 million) and pension commutation arrears (US$13 million).