PARLIAMENT should set up a commission to conduct an audit before debt relief mechanisms can be considered as part of a roadmap to resolve the country’s
$9,9 billion external debt, a social and economic justice coalition has recommended.
CHIEF BUSINESS REPORTER
Last month, Finance and Economic Development minister Patrick Chinamasa announced the setting-up of a Zimbabwe Debt Management Office (ZADMO) to maintain a comprehensive and credible computerised database of all public and publicly guaranteed external debt.
Chinamasa said the sweeping reforms would also see the Ministry of Finance as the final signatory in all loan contractions by parastatals and local authorities.
In an analysis of the reforms to curtail loan contraction, the Zimbabwe Coalition on Debt and Development (Zimcodd) said to find a lasting solution, national public debt audit would bring to the surface the “origins, structure and legitimacy, how much is owed to who, growth and impact of loans on social and economic development”.
“Zimcodd therefore calls for the Zimbabwe Parliament to immediately set up a Public Debt Commission to conduct an official audit before any debt relief mechanism can be considered,” it said.
“The commission should utilise the doctrine of odious debt, and recommend the repudiation of any previous loans which fall under this category.”
Zimcodd said the government should focus on domestic resource mobilisation and plugging “of illicit outflows through high levels of corruption, tax evasion and tax dodging in the extractive industry, particularly the mining sector”.
Zimbabwe’s huge debt has militated against the country’s capacity to attract lines of credit needed to reboot the economy.
The country has no capacity to repay the loans.
Zimcodd said it was concerned by Chinamasa’s proposals to promote the principle of vesting the power to borrow in a single authority as the move was unconstitutional since it violated section 298 (Principles of Public Accountability) and section 299 (Parliamentary Oversight of State Revenues and Expenditure) of the Constitution.
“The executive must ensure that Parliament must at every opportunity be afforded space to exercise its oversight role in all State revenues and expenditure as stated in section 299 of the Constitution,” it said.
It said the composition of the proposed External Loans and Domestic Debt Management Committee (ELDDC) was not adequate as it marginalises the public by only including the central bank governor, Treasury permanent secretary and the Attorney-General.
Zimcodd said Parliament, through portfolio committees, and civil society organisations that are working on debt and economic justice should be included in ELDDC.