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Treasury unaware of diamond sales: Biti
15/07/2010 00:00:00
by Gilbert Nyambabvu
 
Transparency ... Tendai Biti
 
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FINANCE Minister Tendai Biti says although the country sold Marange diamonds worth at least US$30 million, neither the treasury nor the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (ZIMRA) had any record of the transactions.

Presenting the mid-term fiscal policy review in parliament on Tuesday, Biti said the Kimberly Process (KP) monitor for Zimbabwe, Abbey Chikane indicated that significant revenues had been generated from sales of Marange diamonds.

“According to the KPCS Monitor, Zimbabwe has sold at least US$30 million worth of diamonds from Marange, which treasury and ZIMRA have no record or knowledge of,” Biti said.

He added that there were “suspicions over the quality and actual value” of revenues being generated from diamond mining in Marange.

“It is important that any revenue from Marange is accounted for transparently in terms of the law, with the Consolidated Revenue Fund receiving its dues in full under Parliamentary oversight in terms of the Constitution,” he said.

Exportation of Marange diamonds is currently banned after the country failed to secure the KP’s endorsement with Western countries and non governmental organisations insisting rights abuses continue in the area.

However, the government has vowed to defy the KP ban and sell the stockpiled gems - said to be worth over US$1 billion - arguing it needs the money to help revive the country’s economy.

Meanwhile Biti said the government was working on a new Diamond Act which would ban private exploitation of alluvial diamond fields.

“There is broad consensus in government that there should be a new Diamond Act that requires that all alluvial diamond mining be conducted by and through the State.

“This will be in recognition that it will not be ‘business as Usual’ at Marange and that the state will not allow issuance of multiple mining licences that facilitate proliferation of small diamond mining operations,” he said.



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