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Zimbabwe Treasury Can't Account for $30M in Rough Diamond Sales

Jul 15, 2010 10:59 AM   By Jeff Miller
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RAPAPORT... Zimbabwe's finance minister Tendai Biti told Parliament that even though the country sold $30 million in rough diamonds from the Marange this year, there were no financial records of these transactions at the Treasury. To avoid lost revenue from the sale of diamonds in the future, Biti expressed support for a new Diamond Act that would place alluvial diamond mining under governmental control.

He also proposed amending the Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation Act to require that net income from diamond sales be transferred immediately to the Treasury, rather than being treated as normal revenue as it is now, which is partly why $30 million in rough sales were off the books. 

"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,” Biti was quoted as saying by The Zimbabwean newspaper.

The government claims that it has stockpiled somewhere between $1 billion and $2 billion in rough, depending, granted, on which politician is making the statement. But they have all remained fairly consistent in saying Zimbabwe has 4.4 million carats ready to sell whether or not members of the Kimberley Process (KP) votes to lift the export ban that is currently in place for Zimbabwe. President Robert Mugabe told Parliament earlier this week that the sale of rough would give the economy a much-needed boost. Mugabe has targeted annual economic growth of 5.4 percent this year.

Biti suggested to Parliament that the ongoing  legal dispute between his government and former Marange mining company, African Consolidated Resources (ACR), be settled out of court. He also said that Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS) monitor, Abbey Chikane, approved rough diamond sales from the country and thus should be allowed to sell rough under the monitor's watch.

The Zimbabwe Herald quoted Biti as saying, "The proposed Diamond Act will also deal with the issue of compensation and relocation of displaced communities in Marange, including provision of the necessary social infrastructure. The Act will provide for establishment of a $30 million Diamond Fund that will be part of the National Mining Fund."

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