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Missing Diamond Revenues Affected Zimbabwe's 2012 Revenue Target

Zimbabwe failed to meet its 2012 revenue target last year due to the non-remittance of proceeds from the sale of diamonds from the controversial Marange fields, parliament heard Monday.

Accountant general and acting finance permanent secretary Judith Madzorera told parliament’s budget and finance portfolio committee her ministry anticipated to collect about $239 million from diamond revenues last year but a paltry $44 million was remitted by the firms mining in Chiadzwa.

Madzorera said the estimates were realistic and were made in consultation with the mines ministry and other government departments working with the firms in Marange diamonds fields.

Finance Minister Tendai Biti is on record on several occasions complaining that diamond revenues were not finding their way into state coffers, alleging rampant abue of state resources by firms and individuals mining in Marange.

Madzorera said treasury had raised less than $3.5 billion of the projected $3.6 billion it had targeted last year.

With most of the money in their coffers going towards government salaries, government was finding it difficult to fund operations and other non-salary costs.

Committee members said they were unhappy with the government’s growing debt and wanted to know why this was so in the wake of cash budgeting. Madzorera said in some cases this was beyond their control.

Madzorera was quizzed on her ministry’s failure to control the foreign travel budget which many agree is too high for a cash-strapped country. Both President Mugabe and Prime Minister Tsvangirai have huge traveling budgets together with their ministers.