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Zimbabwe Urged to Craft Law For Curbing Cellphone Banking Fraud

Consultations ahead of Zimbabwe’s 2013 national budget continued Thursday with the Deposit Protection Corporation calling for legislation to control mobile phone companies that have ventured into banking operations to safeguard ordinary people from losing their hard-earned cash.

The corporation’s acting chief executive, Vusa Vuma, told a budget consultation meeting in Harare that banking operations by mobile phone companies are not regulated.

Vuma said: “Most of these operations have come into the banking system and yet there is no legislative framework for supervising mobile banking. We may in the long run face serious fraud issues if this situation continues.”

Vuma told the Parliamentary Budget, Finance and Investment Promotion Committee which hosted the meeting that at least $4 billion is circulating in the informal sector because people have lost confidence in the banking sector.

David Govere of the Business Council of Zimbabwe said the treasury should ensure that money realized from the sale of Marange diamonds benefits the nation.

He suggested that $30 million should be set aside for small and medium enterprises.

“Imagine what it will mean when we go to a Kimberley Process meeting and say $30 million of the diamond revenue has assisted a person in Dotito, Plumtree and Dulibadzimu,” Govere said.

Other organizations that made submissions to the committee were the Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce and Buy Zimbabwe.

The two said the budgetary process must include a mandatory local procurement policy.

Others organizations called for the lowering of interest rates and protection of the local industry from cheap imports that have flooded the local market.

Parliamentary budget committee chairman Paddy Zhanda said the submissions would be useful in the drafting of the 2013 budget.

Prosper Chitambara, an economist with the Labor and Economic Development Research Institute of Zimbabwe, said these consultations are a positive development as they promote stakeholders’ interest in budgeting processes.

Chitambara said: “There is need to make sure that the budget is pro-poor and inclusive by allocating more resources to social sectors.”

The public meetings are designed to provide Finance Minister Tendai Biti with many options of formulating the national budget.

Such consultations have been done in the past but some critics say they have not benefited taxpayers.

Biti is scheduled to present the 2013 budget in parliament on November 15.

In a related development, Constitutional and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Eric Matinenga is quoted in the Herald newspaper as saying the controversial Constituency Development Fund (CDF), allegedly abused by some legislators, would not be accessible to lawmakers even if the money is contained in the 2013 national budget.

Constitutional and Parliamentary Affairs Secretary Virginia Mabhiza is quoted as saying: “For accountability purposes, we would rather advise to wait for the elections and start on a fresh slate. Some people may get away with murder if they are to receive CDF funds now and lose the next elections.”

Zhanda, who is also a Zanu PF’s Goromonzi legislator, believes that this is a bad move. “The CDF represented the fairest way of distributing capital throughout the country.”

He said only a tiny fraction of the 210 parliamentarians abused the funds and that there is a system that exposes such issues.

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