Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Diamonds rake in US$174 million in two months

The Treasury is benefiting from sales of diamonds that have surpassed US$170 million this year alone, despite Finance Minister Tendai Biti's claims that diamond dividends were not flowing into the national fiscus.

Documents obtained by the State-run Herald newspaper reveal that Treasury will benefit from at least US$174 million in diamond sales for January to February 7 alone.

Some of the money has already reached the Treasury, although Biti claims that the country has not benefitted from diamonds.

The funds are from sales by Mbada Diamonds and Marange Resources (formerly Canadile Miners).

A dividend amounting to US$85 685 491,01 has been realised while the Minerals Marketing Corporation of Zimbabwe has generated US$31 335 235,48 in royalties.

A sum of US$41 370 740,61 has been raised through the Zimbabwe Reve-nue Authority as corporate tax, and US$2 823 809,73 in management fees.

A further US$10 019 071,43 has co-me from withholding taxes, VAT on management fees stands at US$2 488 328,24 and VAT on MMCZ’s commission is US$411 474,15.

This amounts to US$174 223 814,88.

Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation chairman Mr Godwills Masimirembwa indicated that US$76 million would be paid to Treasury in a fortnight.

Sources also indicated that Minister Biti was trying to force the Mines and Mining Development Corporation into revealing how Zimbabwe sells its diamonds, which could result in the contracted foreign firms being slapped with Western sanctions.

Recent revelations by whistle-blower website WikiLeaks claim Minister Biti has in the past been actively consulted by the EU when the bloc structured its sanctions regime.

The source conjectured that cutting off diamond money could result in some elements using workers’ dire straits as a platform to try and launch civil disobedience.

ZMDC chair Mr Masimirembwa yesterday said the illegal sanctions invited on Zimbabwe by MDC-T were impacting negatively on mining operations.

“We are working under very difficult circumstances because ZMDC, MMCZ and their subsidiaries are all under the US and EU sanctions which were invited by the MDC-T.

“Our view is that the Minister of Finance should agitate for the immediate lifting of the illegal sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe.

“The illegal sanctions are impacting negatively on the flow of income from proceeds of diamond sales to MMCZ and ZMDC.”
Minister Biti, he said, should stop politicking on the money Treasury had already received.

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