By Reason Razao
Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Lands, Agriculture, Water, Fisheries and Rural Resettlement has raised red flags over late payments to farmers and transporters by the Grain Marketing Board adding that they receive money after it has been eroded by inflation.
The portfolio chaired by Gokwe-Nembudziya legislator, Mayor Wadyajena, grilled the GMB Finance Director, Clemence Guta, following revelations that they were paying grain producers on the date of delivery despite delay of payments by months at times.
According to the committee, late payments in local currency are prejudicing farmers and transporters of agricultural inputs given the rate at which the ZWL is losing value.
“Do you think it’s fair to pay farmers on the date of delivery given the rate at which the local currency is depreciating,” Wadyajena asked.
Member of Parliament for Makoni Central, David Tekeshe, warned GMB against promoting side marketing by failing to settle farmers and transporters arrears.
“Your Pricing and mode of payment are promoting side marketing. Most of the products are being marketed outside of GMB where farmers are getting cash or USD.
“If you give a farmer RTGS which would have devalued because you pay by date of delivery, he will not be able to buy fertilizer at bank rate because most fertilizer companies are rejecting ZWL and transfer.
“I would suggest you improve the USD and give it to the farmers because at the end of the day farming is business as well and the farmers along with their workers also need to survive,” Tekeshe said.
As part of his presentation, GMB Finance Director, Guta, argued that farmers had been paid in full.
“Total receipts were 373,996 metric tonnes valued at ZWL 58.97 billion. The USD component amounted to USD 51.38 million. Farmers were paid in full and had no outstanding balances for both ZWL and USD incentives,” Guta said.
“Total receipts to date are 3,331 mt valued at ZWL 513.38 million and USD714 thousand. Farmers have been paid in ZWL in full and the forex component is still outstanding.”
Guta added that GMB was still waiting for funding from Treasury to pay the outstanding forex component.
“We have also requested for a float of ZWL1 billion and USD1.5 million so that we timely pay farmers.”
In terms of money owed to the transporters, Guta said: “As at April 02, 2023 we were owing transporters ZWL 3.59 billion. We received ZWL 3, 215, 000, 000 on the 20 of April 2023 for transporter payments.”
“From this, a total of ZWL 1 021 165 783.07 was paid to Pfumvudza and collection point transporters clearing the outstanding balance.
“The balance of ZWL 2 193 834 216.93 was paid to transporters under the Depot to Depot transfers, in respect of social welfare leaving an outstanding balance of ZWL376 million,” he said.
The Finance Director indicated that they have since written a request to the Treasury to clear this balance.