'Treasury instructed us to pay US$660m to Sakunda'

'Treasury instructed us to pay US$660m to Sakunda'
Published: 17 September 2019 (243 Views)
THE Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) yesterday told parliament that it paid US$663,8 million worth of treasury bills (TBs) to Sakunda Holdings (Sakunda) owned by fuel mogul Kuda Tagwirei under instruction from the ministry of Finance.

RBZ deputy governor Kupukile Mlambo, who was in the company of two other central bank officials, made the revelation while presenting oral evidence to Parliament's Public Accounts Committee (Pac) on payments for Command Agriculture.

The RBZ officials' appearance before Pac, chaired by Harare East legislator Tendai Biti, came  after the committee had asked the central bank to provide details of payments made for over US$1 billion paid to Sakunda - from over US$3 billion allocated to the Command Agriculture programme - that disappeared through the system in unallocated reserves between 2017 and 2018, according to Auditor General Mildred Chiri's 2017 and 2018 reports.

"Government issues an instruction that we issue a TB on their behalf to a particular beneficiary and then what we do ourselves is we ask the client to give us their custodian to whom then we will send the treasury bill to… so this is how Command Agriculture was being funded. We saw an instruction that said issue a TB, and we did issue that in 2017 and in 2018," Mlambo said.

Sakunda was paid in three instalments - US$378,73 million and US$235,95 million - last year by the Finance ministry under the Command Agriculture scheme and US$51,2 million under the presidential scheme.

Mlambo denied accusations that the central bank had made fraudulent payments. He insisted that the "RBZ only paid at the bidding of the Finance ministry" which wrote letters of instruction to the bank.

RBZ deputy director for financial markets, William Manimanzi, weighed in, saying the committee was barking up the wrong tree.
"The Finance ministry gives us an instruction and we oblige. As long as that instruction is signed by bona fide signatories, we will pay," Manimanzi explained.

Pac registered its disappointment over the way Treasury, and the Agriculture ministry and RBZ bosses were oblivious to some of the payments made to Command Agriculture input suppliers.

The Agriculture ministry in particular failed to provide supporting documents for over US$847,9 million allegedly paid directly to service providers, including Sakunda, and accused Treasury of reportedly forcing them to adopt accounting receipts which were paid to unknown suppliers.

Yesterday, Biti told the RBZ officials that the Finance ministry left the ball in the central bank's court, accusing them of making payments of over US$2,1 billion in 2017 from the unallocated reserves, prompting Mlambo to say he would revert back to Pac after looking at the figures.

- dailynews

Tags: Sakunda,
 

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