MUTARE– Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association has called on government to speed up the process of amending public finance management policies to enhance transparency in the natural resources sector.
Speaking during a ZELA training workshop in Mutare recently, Mukasiri Sibanda who is the organisation’s Economic Governance Officer said government must speed up reforms on management of public funds.
“Reforms to the Public Finance Management Act should be sped up to enhance transparency in the diamond mining sector. In fact government should conclude this before delving into conglomerate extraction,” said Sibanda.
Government is failing to derive potential revenue from the sector because companies push for secretive deals with tax holidays and incentives at the expense of the fiscus, said Sibanda.
He said public finance management should be harmonized to the constitution to demand for audits of diamond firms, in the knowledge of lost revenue totaling billions of dollars.
“Lack of beneficial ownership disclosure fosters corrupt deals between government and companies at the expense of the fiscus, while companies also engage in unscrupulous activities including trade misinforming and transfer pricing.
“So there is greater need for vigilance and harmonizing public finance management to constitutional provision to explicitly demand for audits is one way to enhance transparency and accountability in the mining sector,” said Sibanda.
Sibanda said good regimes of public finance management will not only enhance transparency and accountability but also enable government to channel resources equitably, ensure operational efficiency.
ZELA also says African governments lose billions of dollars annually through illicit financial flows aided by weak legislations, with mining contributing a significant chunk of the lost revenue.
Zimbabwe alone has lost billions of dollars estimated at US$15 billion by President Robert Mugabe from diamonds only; a situation Sibanda says can be stopped by judicious public finance management.
Last year government consulted over proposed amendments to the Public Finance Management Bill, which is being amended to bring sanity in the public enterprise sector, riddled with gross mismanagement and pilferage of public funds.