HomeNews‘Debt Assumption Bill needs improvement’

‘Debt Assumption Bill needs improvement’

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STAKEHOLDERS want changes to the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (Debt Assumption) Bill before its second reading in Parliament.

TARISAI MANDIZHA
BUSINESS REPORTER

The Bill was gazetted in June and it will ensure that government takes over the $1,35 billion debt incurred by the RBZ before December 31 2008.

The Bill is under consideration by the Parliamentary Legal Committee.

Speaking on the sidelines of a workshop on the Bill in Harare yesterday, RBZ governor John Mangudya said stakeholders had said that the Bill needs improvement mainly pertaining to the area of taxation, among many other issues.

“What we are saying is that we have a Debt Assumption Bill and overall we agreed and that we have a good intention, but the idea is to clean the balance sheet of the RBZ so that the bank can go back to its core function of being the bank of government, lender of last resort and the national payment systems,” Mangudya said.

“The issues that came out of this conference are areas for improvement especially the concerned status with the Bill pertaining to taxation . . . so there is need to clean up the Bill before it goes for the second reading. Otherwise there is a general agreement by the stakeholders.”

The workshop was organised by the Southern Africa Parliamentary Support Trust (SAPST).

He said the second reading would be coming soon after a public hearing in Harare and Bulawayo later this month.

SAPST director John Makamure said there was need for government and the private sector to work together for the good outcome of the Bill.

“We have to work together, let’s consult and consult meaningfully. This meeting has been very useful and a constructive dialogue. Stakeholders should support the Bill, as they have said there is need for improvement. The Bill has not yet been passed by Parliament and it’s still a draft so there is room to send submissions before the final draft. So the final outcome will be a piece of legislation passed with some changes,” Makamure said.

According to the Bill, the prior debts of the RBZ that are subjected to validation and reconciliation totalled $1 122 276 923,83 inclusive of arrears.

Some of the creditors whose debt subject to validation and reconciliation include NMB ($2,34 million), Zimplats ($34,1 million), Mimosa ($57 million), corporates foreign currency accounts ($131 million), Anglo American ($103 million), parastatals foreign currency accounts ($99 million), gold bonds ($43,7 million) and non-governmental organisations foreign currency accounts ($25,77 million), among others.

According to the Bill, the government had taken over RBZ debts amounting to $265 million as at September 30 2013.

To date, the government has repaid $111 million leaving a balance of $154 million.

RBZ debts accelerated at the height of quasi-fiscal activities when the central bank assumed the role of Treasury dishing out money to meet pressing government commitments.

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