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Government duped

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KWEKWE — Finance minister Tendai Biti has accused a private South African company contracted to expand Beitbridge Border Post of failing to complete the job, thus depriving government of nearly 40% in potential customs revenue inflows.

Biti told NewsDay early this week government had contracted South African Infrastructure Company to modernise the border post, revamping its technology and decentralising clearing systems to curb corruption by Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) officials.

“We contracted them to basically build a new port and that company basically wasted our time, we have to do the process all over again. They spent 13 months on the job doing nothing,” Biti said.

The minister, who was addressing issues of corruption at the border post, said it was difficult to address the matter without dealing with infrastructural development and systems which over the past month have resulted in serious congestion at the post.

“The infrastructure was designed to deal with small volumes of traffic between Zimbabwe and South Africa, but it is now the port of sub-Saharan Africa, it is our biggest port.

“Infrastructure has to be modernised to cater for this and recognise that this is an African port. We therefore have to put another bridge and expand the port,” said Biti.

He said government had lost money in the aborted deal at a border post which accounts for 79% of government’s customs revenue.

“If we had modernised then revenue would have increased by 40% so we have lost that increase in two years. That is money we need,” he said.

Biti said the fight against corruption was not only a function of the law, but also environment, noting that without putting measures to clear the environment which is fertile for corruption then the fight will be lost.

“If you intentionally create queues, you create an environment for corruption because someone has to jump the queue,” he said.

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