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Foreign Affairs in $7 million debt

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THE Foreign Affairs ministry is saddled with a debt of close to $7 million and the state of buildings at most of its 45 embassies and foreign missions is deplorable, it has been learnt.

SENIOR PARLIAMENTARY REPORTER

Secretary for Foreign Affairs Joey Bimha said Treasury was failing to meet its financial obligations due to the liquidity crunch in the country and embassy staff were owed $2 157 300 in salary arrears, in addition to $379 000 in school fees.

The ministry had been invited to appear before the committee chaired by Zaka East MP Samson Mukanduri to speak on the 2013 first quarter budget performance. Foreign Affairs was allocated $63 million in the 2013 National Budget.

“The ministry remains very concerned about the deplorable state of its buildings, vehicles, furniture and office equipment, especially at missions where the situation negatively impacts on the country’s image,” Bimha said.

“During the first quarter ending March 31 2013, Treasury had not paid anything out of a total of $4 050 000 allocated towards the 2013 capital budget for missions.”

Bimha said of what was left from the 2012 budget of $57 974 000, more than half of the capital budget allocation was recalled at the mid-term budget review in July and nothing was ever released due to liquidity constraints.

“Treasury disbursements have resulted in drastic reduction of total arrears to $3 370 800, with salary arrears alone standing at $1 778 300 as at December 2012.

However, since the domestic debt figure of $959 000 under head office includes school fees arrears of $379 000, in real terms this effectively raises the salary arrears at diplomatic missions to $2 157 300,” he said.

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