Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Mpofu defends diamond firms

Mines and Mining Development minister Obert Mpofu has defended diamond mining companies operating in Zimbabwe, following criticism by Finance minister Tendai Biti that they were not remitting proceeds to the fiscus.
Mpofu told delegates that attended the Centre for Public Accountability’s third annual conference held in Harare yesterday, mining firms were meeting their obligations.

Biti last month claimed Anjin Investments of China had not remitted a single cent from its Marange diamond fields since it started operations.

He said failure by Anjin to pay proceeds from diamond sales to Treasury would impact negatively on the $4 billion national Budget where $600 million was expected to come from the sale of the gems.

“Diamond producers continue to meet their obligation to the country by remitting dividends to Treasury from time to time,” Mpofu said.

“I really don’t deal with figures, but there have been so much misplaced utterances.

“Why is Anjin not paying so much? I cannot go to Anjin to ask what they have paid this month.”

Mpofu said the country’s diamonds in 2011 amounted to $166 million excluding royalties and value added tax.

“I am minister of Mines and Mining Development and my responsibility has nothing to do with revenue collection,” he said.

“The responsibility of collecting revenue is for Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) not the Ministry of Mines.

“Why don’t you ask Zimra those questions? Please let’s get our facts clearly.

“The responsibility of the line ministry is not to complain, but to do the work,” Mpofu said.

“We are not denying Zimbabweans information. I have been reading the figures to you.

“There is nothing we have hidden from Zimbabweans. No Ministry of Mines has ever collected revenue anywhere in the world.”

Mineral exports for 2011 surged to $2,45 billion from $1,6 billion in 2010 driven by performances in platinum, gold and diamond production.

Mpofu said diamond production will rise this year beyond the Medium-Term Plan target of 12,1 million carats due to the green light from the Kimberley Process Certification System to sell diamonds on the international market.

He said the outlook for the mining sector remained positive, but the unavailability of medium to long-term credit facilities for both working capital as well as power shortages continued to be major impediments to growth.

“Regrettably, if these enablers are not resolved, they will slow down growth,” he added.

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